Years and years and years ago, I remember being the reporter assigned to interview people protesting the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station which I believe it is proper title for the plant.
So off I went traveling west on Ridge Pike from Norristown to where the plant sat in Limerick Township. Since this was obviously pre-911, I drove right up to the plant site where construction still continued. I stood outside the fence and looked up at the giant cooling towers. All I could see was concrete as far as my eyes could see looking up. And I talked to lots of people others simply referred to as aging hippies — who were fighting the completion of the plant.
I fully remember the protests surrounding the building of Limerick. I remember the “Dump the Pump” crusade which was the opposition of pulling millions and millions of gallons from the Delaware River north of New Hope. The water would be used to cool the reactor at Limerick.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s that I found myself living within range of the plant. If I walk outside my house onto my backyard deck I see the towers as plain as day. While working at the Pottstown Mercury I experienced events like small planes from the nearby airport flying dangerously close to the plant. We had a tornado come within a couple of miles of the plant before it hit a housing development leveling one house and killing a family of three along with causing lots of damage to other homes.
I remember driving to work west on Route 422 and on days noticing one of the cooling towers not kicking out steam. It is, by the way, steam and not smoke…I would immediately check to see what was happening there since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had this system of things called “unusual events” for the plant. An unusual event could be the guy at the controls belching or it could be something way more serious. That never left me feeling very good.
Actually, I once had a brother-in-law who worked in nuclear plant construction. He always assured me that these plants were safe. So despite Three Mile Island and Chernobyl I suppose he was right.
I guess the fire companies offering iodine tablets for me to help save my thyroid in the event of a nuclear issue at Limerick also didn’t help me feel better either.
So now comes word that approval for construction of new nuke plants has happened for the first time in more than 30 years.
I know that these plants for the most part are operated in a safe manner. At least that’s what we’re told. Up to this point, nothing in Limerick has blown up. And I suppose that if we are to break the ties to oil and other fossil fuels then we must consider other sources of energy including nuclear.
But I have to say that the thought of a meltdown of a nuke plant less than 10 miles from home at times does still cross my mind.
I am hoping that our world and its scientists and engineers have learned lots of lessons and have seen the needed improvements for the next generation of nuke plants. I am trusting that that’s what’s going to happen.
That’s a lot of trust happening there. But I guess I do that every night when I look outside my bedroom window and see those lighted towers. And I never did pick up my iodine tablets. To do that would just make me more of a nervous wreck.
Mr. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, please tell me you are OK with this new wave of plants…
— Andy Hachadorian