Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Nuclear Plant that Wasn’t

NEIAd-20pct.FINAL.Feb2011 Here’s an interesting story about a nuclear plant that didn’t get built in Easton NY in the late sixties (as the name implies, Easton is in far east New York state near the Vermont border):

Town Supervisor John Rymph was [in Easton in 1967, when the plant was announced], and said that he remembered being excited and looking forward to, as many residents did, the plant and the changes it would bring. A comprehensive plan and the town's planning board both sprouted in the aftermath of news of the nuclear facility planned for Grandma Moses' birthplace.

The local paper was excited, too:

An editorial in the now defunct Cambridge-based Washington County Post proclaimed in March that "the atomic age had arrived on the local scene," but continued on to say that the "communities to be affected are far from being ready to meet the challenge."

From this distance, we can’t really know what the Post saw as its community not being ready, as it certainly got itself ready for an economic bonanza:

The Greenwich Journal wrote then that despite the road blocks, the feeling locally for many up to that point was that the project would continue. The town of Easton, Washington County, and Stillwater Central School District were all poised for large tax revenues upon completion of the plant.

And that would happen, in part, because of the jobs the plant would bring with it.

But:

The Hudson River commission's qualms were shared by some locals, the state Historic Trust, and ultimately the National Advisory Commission for Historic Preservation. By mid-1968, the plant seemed in doubt, with an Aug. 8 Greenwich Journal headline proclaiming "Easton Likely to Lose Niagara Mohawk Plant."

And that’s what happened. Reporter Zeke Wright sounds a somewhat plangent note:

Today, the town of Easton's Website boasts of more than 30 farms, making it the "most agricultural town in the region."

So the town is as the town was. Wright is correct in not going beyond the facts – plenty of power plants are sited in rural areas that maintain their character – but still, the feeling of a lost possibility is very strong.

The Web site he refers to may be this one for the Easton Library. Easton has about 2500 people.

It’s a terrific peek into atomic history. Do read the whole thing.

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As you might expect, NEI advertises the benefits of nuclear energy outside just its web site. The main goal is to reach policymakers, but a fair amount of advertising is also done in national newspapers, such as the Washington Post, and in both print and on-line editions. There are also TV and radio spots broadcast largely during pubic affairs programming.

This is a good way to bring out nuclear energy’s virtues to the general public and to a targeted audience that can build public policy.

It is nice to be able to share the effort with anyone interested. I’ve included the print ad above (click for larger) and you can take a look at the radio, TV and print ads here.

2 comments:

Jeff Schmidt said...

It's kind of sad, but after reading the article, I kind of wondered. . . did the Niagara Mohawk Corporation start to, perhaps, bite off more than it could chew, and realized that as they started to get into the process, deciding it best to cancel the project before they got too deeply indebted?

I guess what I'm saying is, perhaps the various concerns raised by the different agencies and parties that this article views as blocking the plant, were legitimate concerns, and could have perhaps been worked through, but Niagara Mohawk didn't have the patience and funding to build the plant the "right way". Better to not do the job, than to do the job wrong, no?

I wonder if a larger, better funded company might have been able to succeed where N-M was not?

Anonymous said...

The site lies atLat: 42.97, Lon:-73.62, across the river from the Saratoga National Battlefield.