Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Back to Easton

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story about the efforts of a small town to bring a nuclear plant to its area back in the seventies. It didn’t happen back then, for various reasons, and Easton, N.Y. remains now as it was then, a small farming town. So imagine my surprise:

About 50 people, including a member of [Rep. Chris Gibson's (D-N.Y.)] staff, attended last week's [town] board meeting at which the board voted to create the [nuclear] study committee. Gibson, the freshman Republican congressman from the 20th District, has made constructing a nuclear power plant in the district one of his priorities.

That district, of course, includes Easton. Most of the story is bare speculation, but I found it interesting that the echo of the past has made an impact on the present:

[Farmer George] Allen was a high school senior when the [original nuclear] plant was proposed, and remembers seeing a model of the facility at his school. Years later, after he had bought the utility land, his three kids used to swim in the old reactor pit, which is 60 feet deep and full of "crystal-clear water."

And Allen seems an ideal constituent:

"But I do think it is smart for the town to do some study of this issue," said Allen, who attended last week's Town Board meeting to speak in favor of the study committee. "There should be good information, rather than hearsay or how someone just feels about it."

Bravo, George Allen.

I have no idea whether a nuclear plant in Easton is a long shot  - no one has expressed interest in building one as far as I know – and I suspect the residual excitement over the first plant gives Easton a sort of extra enthusiasm. I find this – shall we say? – imprint on the town’s DNA uniquely intriguing. Plus, if it succeeds, Eastern New York would do nothing but benefit. I hope Easton gets its nuclear plant.


Di said...

My husbands family lives there, he grew up swimming in the river/canal up there. The area is beautiful so why not destroy it.... In light of the problems in Japan this past wkend may make many of them think differently. Think it may be time to consider options like wind power or solar. Don't have to worry about trying to get rid of contaminate from them.

Robert said...

The idea was floated by one Board member at a Town Board meeting in February 2011. By the time the Board met again in March 2011, they had a resolution written up to look into the feasibility of nuclear power and ONLY nuclear power, which they voted to pass, and they appointed the committee in April 2011. The pace at which this all happened was astounding, given that the Board sometimes takes two or three meetings to decide whether or not to trim a bush.

At no time was a public referendum held, no attempt was made to have a public forum to see how the town residents felt about any of this. The Town Board agenda is not published in advance, so the 50+ people who showed up to protest did so because they had read about the issue in the newspaper and came to the meeting to see if there would be an opportunity to voice their opinions. Their only opportunity to have a voice was during the public comments section of the general Board meeting -- and the overwhelming sentiment of the residents was NOT to proceed with the resolution, and to forget the whole idea.

The Town Board ignored requests to bring this issue to the town at any kind of structured and advertised public forum, and even refused to include looking into the feasibility of sources of renewable energy like wind and solar in the wording, and they voted in the resolution (4 in favor, one against) despite overwhelming opposition from the public.

Having a nuclear power plant in Easton is NOT ingrained in our DNA. It is being forced on us by a Town Board looking to curry favor with Mr. Gibson. In particular, Steve Mueller -- the member of the board that started this whole thing -- seems to have an agenda that he is pushing. What everyone is wondering is . . . what it is and why?