On Oct. 1, 2002, an explosion started what became a nine-alarm fire at the L Street power plant in South Boston. By the time it was over, firefighters were doused with toxic lubricating oil so thick some had to take off their respirators to breathe.
That was just the start of their troubles. According to one report in 2019:
Of the 200 firefighters who answered the call that day, 50 have cancer, cardiac disease or lung disease. Sixteen of them have died from cancer; slow and agonizing deaths Commissioner Finn links to that day.
At the time, the plant, owned by Sithe Energies Inc. and Exelon, had two large generators and a smaller unit. The operators never tried to rebuild the generator where the explosion happened and eventually shut the other two units. Three workers were injured yesterday in trying to demolish most of the plant, to make way for a new complex of residences, offices and a hotel.