Robert E. Ginna Nuclear

The Robert E. Ginna Nuclear Generating Station was built south of Lake Ontario in New York. It is a nuclear power plant with a single unit and was operational in 1970, making it one of the oldest working nuclear power plants in the United States today.  Energy is generated by a pressurized light water reactor with a capacity of 581 megawatts, which is cooled by water from Lake Ontario taken in at a rate of around 354,000 gallons a minute.  Constellation Energy Group purchased this reactor from Rochester Gas and Electric in 2004.

In 1982, some radioactive steam leaked from the reactor for 93 minutes because of an unidentified object left in the generator during an outage. The site was declared to be in a state of emergency. The issue was resolved and the plant is still operational today, having had its steam generators replaced in 1996.

Besides radiation exposure, exposure to asbestos affects many power plant workers all over the United States, often without them realizing it. Asbestos was used in building materials and as insulation in military ship yards, in factories, and in power plants for years. Asbestos is fire and heat retardant and has also been used to make protective clothes and gear for power plant workers.

When intact, asbestos poses little harm to workers; however, through handling and other disturbance like sanding, cutting, and heat exposure, asbestos dust is released. This dust is made of long, extremely fine fibers that are impossible to detect with the naked eye. As these fibers take to the air, they are breathed in by workers and travel to the lungs. Because of the shape and consistency of asbestos fibers, they are trapped in the lining of the lungs and build up there over time. Asbestos fibers can also affect the lining of the heart and the lining of the abdomen.

When these fibers collect, they aggravate tissue cells in the lungs and cause scarring and abrasion. This over time alters the composition of cells and makes the cancerous. The cancer cells metastasize, or spread, to other vital organs, all while the victim is unaware of their condition.  When workers and other victims are diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos related conditions, they are often only given a few months to a year to live. Though traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy tumor removal surgery are generally administered, most mesothelioma cases are far too metastasized for any positive effect to take place. Remission is often unlikely and survival is nearly impossible.