Wolf Creek Generating Station, Burlington, Kansas
The Wolf Creek Generating Station, located north of Burlington, Kansas, is the state’s only nuclear power plant. It is owned by the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which in turn is owned by three different companies: Kansas City Power and Light, Kansas Gas and Electric, and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative. The plant provides electricity to parts of both Kansas and Missouri; its output is about 12,000 megawatts.
Although plans for the plant were first made in the 1960’s, the Wolf Creek Generating Station did not begin operations until 1985. This delay was partially caused by repeated protests by members of the community who were concerned about the dangers of nuclear power. These protests peaked in 1979, following the accident at Three Mile Island that caused a leak of radioactive gases. Eventually, the plant’s owners prevailed over protests and legal challenges and began construction of the plant.
Nuclear Power’s Environmental Impact
In some ways, nuclear power is a very clean source of energy. Many other power plants must burn materials such as coal or gas, which results in the emission of dangerous pollutants. In contrast, nuclear power plants use the heat of radioactive materials to heat water into steam, which in turn powers electricity-generating turbines.
Nuclear power is not without its drawbacks, however. Although plants like the Wolf Creek Generating Station follow strict safety protocol and have many emergency plans, there is always the potential for an extremely hazardous accident. In addition, the use of nuclear power can cause secondary impacts on the environment. For example, materials like uranium must be mined, a potentially dangerous undertaking that can have a severe impact on the environment.
The plants themselves may also be constructed or maintained with toxic materials. However, this problem is not unique to nuclear plants. For example, prior to 1986, power plants of all kinds typically used asbestos extensively in insulation, safety gear, cement, and more.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to deadly diseases such as mesothelioma. If you have lived near or worked in a power plant in the past, it is very important to be aware of this potential threat to your health.