Monday, January 28, 2008

Why Mom said not to pick at scabs

As a Mother myself, I can remember telling my children the very same thing.

My Mother (and I) didn't want an infection to set in or a permanent scar to develop.

When I first learned about the potential zoning change for Limerick, it never crossed my mind that I would (figuratively) be picking at an old scab.

Too late.

It's open, again.

Back around 1972-73, I was one of the original protesters against the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. The reason I have a ballpark date is because my then 2 year old son accompanied me to a large protest near where the plant now exists.

In those ancient days we had no computers or internet on which to share information, and most of us who rallied over that abomination being built in our backyard only had word-of-mouth communication on the subject. Sure there were newspaper articles and perhaps a few spots on the news, (and telephones, umhmm) but nothing like the instant communication we have today. Still, it wasn't too hard generating interest in the area to try to fight the construction of a nuclear power plant.

I resentfully remember some of the bits of information and rumors we passed around as though they were gospel truth. I also remember a two mile walk under a hot sun with about three billion bugs, but I'll get to that in a minute.

We "heard" that the Limerick site was chosen because "they" thought "they" would get less in the way of protests from us "hicks from the sticks" out this way compared to Bucks County or even Berks County. Imagine. We, however, figured we would show them a thing or two about how we galvanize folks out here in the sticks, and we did, too. We had several thousand people at the main protest, and many good people took up the fight.

About that two mile walk. Due to the scanty info on the protest that day, I only took a diaper bag along for my son and was not prepared for a hike. When we reached the area we were directed to park in fields. Jimmy was in an umbroller stroller, and I had wooden Dr. Scholl's flip-flops on. TWO miles I walked in those things. My feet were bleeding when we finally reached the staging area. Already exasperated and with my nose out of joint over hearing of the presence of many plant employees at the rally, I plopped on the ground with my son beside me loaded for bear or good speakers, whichever came first. Off to my right I noticed a man in a windbreaker with a camera facing the crowd. He would snap a picture, shift two inches, snap a picture, shift another two inches, step, and take a picture. Soon he was right in front of my son and me.

Somewhere in PECO's archives exists a photograph of a young woman who had just decided that a bear was in sight and at close range, and a small boy looking directly into the camera. This picture would probably be a bit distinctive. I am flipping a "bird" directly into the camera lens. That much I'll tell you. I won't repeat what I told him to do with the picture once it was developed.

But, we still lost.

Now, after all these years, the spectre of those twin towers still dominate our skyline from all directions, and those plumes are a constant reminder of which way the prevailing wind blows.

Long ago, the hopeful, optomistic side of me prepared a sort of "bug out" bag to grab in the case of an emergency, and a couple of years ago I decided to upgrade it from casual to serious. Just in case. I prepared a bag for each of my children, too, and explained what they should include in the way of last minute necessities from their homes. The Mom in me felt a bit higher comfort level knowing my children had a bug out bag at the ready. Now I only worry that they won't remember it.

That being stated publically for the first time, I should also note the pessimist in me. That side has a plan, too. Knowing the evacuation routes, and having some idea of the hundreds of thousands of people living and working in this area, realism rears it's head. Many times I've spent 15 minutes or more trying to get from one end of this little town to the other during heavy traffic periods, so I can only wonder if we would be gridlocked at a most inconvenient time.

The pessimist figures a check of Action News' traffic report would reveal a great deal about the local situation. A look through the eyes of the traffic cameras which are stationed just about everywhere, should show if the outward bound trip would grind to a halt long before we get out of Dodge. If that's the case, the crepehanger in me just wants stay put.

There's an bottle of Courvoisier XO in the cupboard just waiting for the right time to be opened. Before things start to glow around here, the windows can be thrown open, the world irreverently mooned, and a drink toasted to the healthy survival of those out first.

So now that the unhealed, old scab has been reopened, I would like to pass along the following link to a very interesting site I visit from time to time. It has nothing to do with nuclear power plants but I think you will find it an informative site to "Get an in-depth pollution report for your county, covering air, water, chemicals, and more."

Mom was right about picking at scabs when we were kids.

As adults, a little selective self-surgery may be just the thing needed to spark the fire of citizen activism.

I'm glad I picked.

You should try it, too.


Anonymous said...

The nuclear power plant is far from the only problem in this area.

Anonymous said...

Last night I had a thought that jolted me awake. Since I have not seen a map that shows exactly which parcels of land have been rezoned to HI/E, I will assume the land the nuclear power plant occupies is one of the parcels that has been rezoned (in order to keep it's energy use). I understand the new HI/E zoning does not have the types of restrictions that the previous HI had. So, my thought is, will the nuclear power plant also have fewer restrictions in it's operation than previously? To me that is a very scary possibility.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1/19 11:58 --

I believe that loosening the restrictions on the nuclear power plant land was a major reason for changing the zoning.

From the supervisors' standpoint, might as well pack those energy plants together in one place and reel in the taxes (both for the use and the workers).

Karlub said...

What's your prob with nuclear power, Karen? Way safer and cleaner than the other options!

Karen said...

Hello, Karlub!

Good question with an initially simple answer. I hope this comes out coherently as I'm a bit under the weather tonight.

In response, I want my family and friends, your family and friends, and everyone else's family and friends to live out their lives untouched by by the horrors of cancer or other illnesses caused by the deliberate addition of any potentially dangerous element into the area in which we live.

Now, for the longer answer.

I'm sure you know that studies have been done on the effects on people living near a nuclear power plant. For example, an analysis of 50 years of US National Cancer Institue data, by Dr. Jay Gould found that "...of the 3,000 odd counties in the United States, women living in about 1,300 nuclear counties (located within 100 miles of a reactor) are at the greatest risk of dying of breast cancer. They also found even higher risks for prostate cancer among men living in nuclear counties.

Just one example of why I am concerned, Karlub.

Worrisome, also, are the final results of the Tooth Fairy project which conducts tests on baby teeth.

Radioactive Strontium-90 (Sr-90) is one of the deadliest of elements released through accidental release of fission products and through regular allowable emissions which the government classifies as below regulatory concern. (BELOW regulatory concern??? Grrrr...)

It is no surprise to me that strontium-90 levels have been found to be "significantly" higher in nuclear counties than in non-nuclear counties.

As is noted at the above referenced Radiation and Public Health website, once complete, "This study will gather the necessary clinical evidence to determine whether nuclear weapons fallout and power reactors are affecting our public health and contributing to America's cancer epidemic--impacting the health and mortality of newborn children and damaging future generations."

Our babies! One of my problems with nuclear power is the fact that it may negatively affect OUR babies as well as anyone else in the adjacent areas. Nothing makes me angrier than knowing that our family may be in harm's way.

Karlub, I don't know if I ever trusted any governmental agency to provide the complete and unedited truth on situations where the one side is big business and the other the public. In some matters such as this one, I believe we should trust our own instinct and research.

For more incredible information from a local resource, please visit:

Another problem I have with nuclear power, and specifically the plant in Limerick is the amount of water drawn by the facility, in this case, from the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers. Over 1,000,000 people depend on that water to sustain life. I have friends who routinely kayak and they complain of more shallow areas than ever, and the complaints were not during a time of drought. How can we protect our water supply with a nuclear plant nearby?

From the acereport at:

EVERY DAY Exelon is permitted to withdraw 69 MILLION GALLONS from the Schuylkill River for the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant
2. Exelon has already been permitted to add ONE BILLION GALLONS to the
Schuylkill River from the Tamaqua Reservoir.

3. Exelon is already adding ONE BILLION GALLONS (over a 6 month dry period)
of contaminated mine water from at the headwaters of theSchuylkill River to
supplement flow for the nuclear plant.

Much more at the website regarding contaiminated mine water and the Schuylkill.

I resent the fact that as much as I do to protect my family from the harmful in our environment, I can't stay ahead, Karlub.

Chernobyl disaster. Three Mile Island. Guards sleeping on the job at nuclear power plants, risk of accidents, equipment failure, environmental degradation by uranium mining, nuclear waste storage problems (the half-life of Plutonium-239, one of the lethal components of nuclear waste, is 24,000 years!), and so many other problems I have, Karlub, I just don't have the time to list them all.

The really, truly sad part of living in the shadows of Limerick's nuclear plant is the fact that we don't even benefit from the energy generated! The power is sent down line.

All we're left with is our fears, concerns, and tears.

Solofloyd said...

So Karen would you prefer to live in the shadow of coal fired powerplant? The power has to come from somewhere and they all use resources and emit pollution.

Before moving to Phxville I lived near a coal fired powerplant. My son that was born and lived his first 2 years near that plant is autistic. Do you think this might have to do with the mercury and other pollutants emitted from that powerplant. We probably will never know.

The point is that ALL powerplants are dangerous not just nuclear ones.

Karen said...

Hello, Solofloyd, and thank you for an opportunity to respond.

I'm not sure where you live, but here in Phoenixville, we do live in the shadows of a coal fired plant. It's Cromby. I've seen documents regarding fines paid for discharges, and it's distressing to consider what the potential risk is to those of us who live downwind.

Yes! I realize that some power plants and some heavy industry have problems, and that's the point. My position is that we do not need to add to the pollution in this area by building MORE of them here.


I'm so sorry I cannot answer your question regarding your son, Solofloyd, and as you pointed out, you may never have answers to your questions.

God Bless you, your son, and your entire family.