Asbestos Exposure at Niagara Mohawk - Huntley Steam Station, Tonawanda, NY

Dunkirk Station

The Dunkirk and Huntley Stations were once considered the largest steam generator plants in New York State. The Dunkirk station sits on the shore of Lake Erie, 55 miles southwest of Buffalo, in Dunkirk, New York. The Niagara Mohawk Corporation once owned this 600-megawatt plant consisting of four coal-fired units, including two 100-megawatt units that have been in operation since 1950, and two 200-megawatt units that went into commission 1959 and 1960.

The Huntley Station is located in Tonawanda, New York, on the Niagara River, just north of the City of Buffalo. Originally, it was called the River Station, and in 1926 it was renamed in honor of Charles R. Huntley, the late president of the Buffalo General Electric Company. The Huntley Station was once Niagara Mohawk's largest coal-fired steam generating plant, and it contained six units with a total nominal rating of 760 megawatts.

Niagara Mohawk's initial focus was on vast growth with regard to hydro-electric sources for the creation of energy. Electric power for Niagara Mohawk’s power lines were generated in eighty-three hydroelectric sources and in seven steam-electric generation plants. Both the Dunkirk and Huntley Stations were significant contributors to power generation in New York State.

The Niagara Mohawk Corporation owned and maintained many powerhouses and utility substations throughout New York State. The Huntley and Dunkirk stations were once considered to be the largest steam generator plants in New York. Asbestos was used extensively at both the Huntley and Dunkirk stations as insulation for high-heat temperature equipment, including turbines, large boilers, pumps, steam lines and valves. As a result of asbestos exposure at Huntley and Dunkirk utility stations, many workers developed mesothelioma, a cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos.

In recent years, both the Dunkirk and Huntley power stations were classified as top polluters in New York State due to emissions from burning coal. According to a pollution report submitted by Niagara Mohawk to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1999, the two stations combined released roughly 3.6 million pounds of hydrogen chloride, 1 million pounds of sulfuric acid mist and 500,000 pounds of hydrogen fluoride in addition to mercury and other toxic metals. NRG Energy, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northern States Power Company purchased Niagara Mohawk’s Dunkirk and Huntley stations shortly after this report was filed. Since then, it has taken corrective measures to eliminate some of the emissions spewing from these two plants.

*Pictured above, NIMO Dunkirk Power Generating Station.