Roy S. Nelson Generating Plant

The Roy S. Nelson Plant is a gas and coal-fueled electric plant operating since 1969 in Westlake, Louisiana. It is capable of producing 646 million kilowatts of energy using gas and 550 million using coal.  Entergy Gulf States – a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation – owns the Roy S. Nelson facility, and similar to numerous other utility firms, Entergy Corporation is the result of multiple mergers and acquisitions that obscure the origins of such companies and attempt to regularly convolute corporate identities.

The Roy S. Nelson facility is one of Louisiana’s primary polluters, and based on studies done in 2006, has released over 5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the surrounding air in just one year. The same research proved that the facility also released 5,950 tons of nitrogen oxide and 17,445 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions that same year.

Mercury emission is also a serious problem at the plant, as it expelled over 300 pounds of this toxic metal in 2006, as well. The Nelson Plant, in cooperation with Entergy’s Big Cajun facility, are two of Louisiana’s worst mercury emitters, as their combined total pounds of mercury released annually is over 1,000.

Due to its fire-blocking abilities, asbestos was utilized in a wide variety of power plants, factories and mills in all 50 states. It was a strong insulator that was intended to protect workers from death and injury at the time; however, the long-term results were catastrophic. Exposure to asbestos meant serious illness or death for countless employees. When an individual ingests or inhales asbestos fibers, the hazardous mineral invades his or her organs where irreversible damage occurs. Additionally, mesothelioma – a rare, terminal cancer of the lining around the lungs – can result from asbestos exposure, even at low levels.

Modern workers are now protected by safety and health regulations controlling the use of asbestos. However, as recently as the late 1970s, workers frequently labored in areas full of asbestos dust and given no information on how detrimental this could be to their health. Additionally, workers carried asbestos fibers home on their hair and clothes because decontamination facilities were not provided by employers. As a result, those who worked with asbestos brought the danger home to their families.