Mountain Creek Generating Plant is a Dallas legacy, though much of its past had undesirable consequences.
Mountain Creek Lake sounds like such a pleasant place to relax and enjoy the scenery. In actuality, the lake was built, not for relaxation, but as a cooling reservoir for the Mountain View, more generally known as Mountain Creek, power plant. The plant was built starting in 1938, with additional units built in 1945, 1949, 1956, 1958, and 1967. Through the years, it was also called the Dallas Power and Light Mountain Creek Station, Mountain Creek Steam Electric Station, and Mountain Creek S-E Generating Station.
What was the Mountain Creek Generating Plant?
Mountain Creek was a steam generating power plant that ran turbines, which then generated electricity. Steam plant built in this time period commonly had pipes, steam-lines and steam driven equipment which were extremely hot and therefore were built using asbestos-containing insulation. In addition, gaskets and rope packing were made from asbestos and used on steam flanges and steam powered equipment, like pumps, valves, turbines, and boilers. Steel surfaces also had fireproofing made from asbestos.
Workers at most power plants through the 1980s were likely exposed to asbestos. In fact, if a power plant was built before 1980, it is almost a certainty that asbestos was in the facility or in the products made there. Because asbestos is comprised of microscopic fibers that are easily inhaled, workers in the plant – and sometimes their families – daily inhaled these fibers, creating a health problem for the future. Asbestos diseases are often fatal, especially mesothelioma. Other diseases include lung cancer and asbestosis. After an individual is exposed to asbestos, it can take 20 to 40 years or more for symptoms to develop. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
What has happened to Mountain View?
In 2018, Exelon Generation Co LLC, going through bankruptcy, sold Mountain Creek along with three other power plants to their creditors. Two of the generators were retired by that time.
Photo Courtesy of Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Southern Methodist University