Walter C. Beckjord Station

Located in New Richmond, Ohio, the Walter C. Beckjord Generating Station is on the Ohio River. The facility is in Clermont County, and it is approximately 22 miles east of Cincinnati. The area has a low population density, but the population of New Richmond is growing. Utilities work makes up about 4% of occupations for males who live in the area. Originally, the Beckjord plant was owned by CINergy. Duke Energy purchased the plant through a deal with Cincinnati Power and Light in 2006. Today, the plant employs approximately 195 people.

In 1954, Beckjord began to operate on coal. In 1972, the plant put its oil-fired turbine into use. Today, the plant has four turbines, a coal-fired unit, and six total units in two generating plants. The total capacity is about 1,368 megawatts. Anthracite, distillate oil, and bituminous coal are burned at the generating station.

Clermont County consistently ranks as one of the worst counties in the United States in terms of water and air pollution. Fly ash and hazardous emissions are two of the biggest environmental concerns in regards to the Beckjord facility. The plant produces sulfur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain and leads to thousands of deaths every year, according to the EPA. Fly ash is a hazardous byproduct produced at Beckjord. It is difficult to dispose of the high levels of fly ash produced there, and much of it is stored in landfills and above-ground ponds.

Beckjord Generating Station may also have high asbestos levels, and power plant employees in general are classified as high risk for exposure to the toxic mineral. Like so many other facilities during the 20th century, Beckjord may have used asbestos heavily. Asbestos is extremely toxic if inhaled, and workers who breathed in the mineral developed serious health conditions, including mesothelioma, an uncommon type of cancer.

It can take decades for a person to show any symptoms of mesothelioma after initial exposure to asbestos. Up until the 1980s, people who worked with asbestos were not properly trained to protect themselves against its harmful fibers, and many were unaware that it was toxic. As a result, they inhaled the mineral and even carried its fibers home on their clothes, which put their families at risk through second-hand contact. Today, there are laws that require workers to take proper safety measures while working with asbestos.