Authors note: I am not writing this to start a debate. I am writing this to try and show that sometimes opposite sides of the coin actually look very much the same if you step back and really take notice. I am not taking the side of the "pro" or "anti." I am taking the side of the area of the world I call home and love so very deeply. Thanks for reading.
I try to avoid the big debates in our area. We live in a place where emotions run high and everywhere you turn something is splitting people apart. Everyone has an opinion and rarely are they willing to listen to the other side long enough. I try to side with hard evidence and science. Things that are not easily disproved. I also try to avoid getting into a debate with someone over many of these issues.
After mulling it over I have decided to dust off the megaphone, step up onto my juicebox and spread some opinions. Will I make friends? Maybe. Will I make enemies? Maybe. Will I make sense? Doubtful. However, all that aside, I feel like someone needs to say this and it might as well be me.
Buckle up, folks. Juicebox Confession is about to take on Vermont Yankee.
I am going to assume you all are familiar with the nuclear power plant that currently resides in Vernon (which just so happens to be my hometown). I am also going to assume that you do not live under a rock since you are reading this. That would mean that you know all about the major announcement a few weeks ago that Vermont Yankee is to close their doors for good next year. And, if you know all that then you most definitely know that there is a very visible line that divides the great folks of this area. The pro-VYers and the anti-VYers. Ok, now that we are all on the same page, let’s get into it.
I will start by saying that my personal opinion of this matter bears no weight into what we are about to discuss. I will, however, for the sake of transparency tell you that the plant makes me slightly uneasy. I don’t fully understand nuclear power and therefore, the whole fear of the unknown takes control. I am, however, a big fan of electricity, local jobs, a healthy economy, and lower taxes for my mom. (Hi, Mom!!) When I first heard the news of the closing my knee-jerk reaction was "Oh, good." Then I started thinking. All those jobs, those families, those children ....
I read everything I could online. I chatted with pro and anti-VY folks. I held a debate in my head for a solid week or more. This is what I came up with:
No one wins.
VY closing their doors is a win for no one. (Well, maybe except for the companies who make their billions from fracking. That topic may need a whole new juicebox, though, folks.) The anti-VYers didn’t win. The doors will close, yes. The plant will shut down, yes. But, the radioactive material that is sitting in the ground will remain. It will stay there for an undetermined amount of time. The danger that the anti folks see will not be resolved.
The pro-VYers didn’t win. They are all facing unemployment and an uncertain future. They lost their jobs after fighting a lengthy legal battle with the state of VT. Just when it seemed like things were looking up for them, they lost everything. They didn’t lose to the anti-Vyers either. They lost to fracking. They lost to a practice that they can not compete with financially. A practice that I am going to go out on a limb and guess that most anti-VYers are opposed to.
So here we are. The plant is closing. The local economy will be hit, only time will tell how hard. More than 630 individuals and their families will be forced to relocate or stay here and tap into resources that are already at their financial breaking point. Resources that, ironically, VY was a major donor to. On the other hand, VY states that the decommissioning process is likely to take decades. They say they "will continue to be a good corporate citizen" to the local economy and charities. They also state they will "treat their employees fairly and assist them through this transition."
Either way, the way I see it is, no one "won". The anti VYers lost to spent fuel being stored on-site potentially for decades, or longer.The pro-VYers lost uncertain future. They both lost to an injured economy and to fracking. We all lost something the day that VY announced that it would close regardless of side or stance.
The line dividing the sides are still visible. They always will be. But now, those sides, they don’t look quite so different anymore.
Michelle writes from her tiny house that she shares with the loves of her life. Her only reference for time is the seasons and the growth of her child. She wanders with a purpose and day dreams frequently. Her writing can be found on her parent-oriented blog: www.JuiceboxConfession.com, her personal musings: www.MichelleElizabeth.wordpress.com, and on her writer’s collective: www.LiteraryTraces.com. Her photos can also be seen weekly on www.LuminousTraces.wordpress.com.