Columbia Generating Station, Richland, Washington
People rely on electricity to power everything from cars to ovens. We have figured out how to use things like water pressure, steam, coal, and even nuclear power to create electricity. However, these power-generating plants must be safely enclosed and insulated so that they do not expose people to dangerous materials.
The Columbia Generating Station, near Richland Washington, was started in 1972 but did not go online until 1984. The reactor was meant as part of a group of nuclear reactors, but the others were not completed. Thus, the Columbia Generating Station is sometimes more simply known as WNP-2, for Washington nuclear power unit 2. This nuclear power plant supplies 9% of Washington’s total electricity output.
The Dangers of Nuclear Reactors
Nuclear reactors are beneficial in that they do not contribute to problems like greenhouse gas emissions. However, they still present the issue of nuclear waste, which can remain radioactive for hundreds of years. Thus, it is very important for nuclear reactors to be sufficiently insulated so that they do not leak nuclear waste into the community.
Asbestos as Insulation
In many power plants, especially those as old as the WNP-2, asbestos was a popular material for insulation. Asbestos resists the effects of heat, flame, chemicals, and electricity. Additionally, this silicate mineral is very flexible and strong. Thus, it was an attractive additive for insulation.
However, we now know that asbestos can cause serious disorders such as mesothelioma and other cancers. If you have worked or lived near a power plant such as the Columbia Generating Station, you may have suffered from inadvertent exposure to asbestos. Talk to your doctor today about ways to detect asbestos-related diseases as soon as possible.