A nuclear error

by | Jun 20, 2008


At the start of the month, I tried to write a wry and whimsical post about signs of scarcity in Putnam County, a beautiful bit of hill country north of New York City.  Well, sometimes you’re trying to do whimsy and you come over as a bit of a dick.  Although it wasn’t possible to comment on the post (any blog that involves internet hate figure Daniel Korski has to take such measures) one Putnam resident ferreted out my e-mail address to point out that I’d got my facts and analysis wrong.

I won’t reprint the entire correspondence, but the central issue has been Putnam County’s 1970s Indian Point nuclear power station, which I mocked as “Olde Worlde” and a menace to the community.  That’s not a unique point of view – heck, even folk legends Pete Seeger and Ani DiFranco claim that “Indian Point is leaking radioactive waste into the Hudson River, is one of the most vulnerable terrorist targets, and has 20 million people without a workable evacuation plan living in its shadows.”  And for those who aren’t convinced that folk genius and knowledge of energy security are one and the same thing (I have visions of Steeleye Span commenting on pipeline issues) an organization called Riverkeeper bashes away at Indian Point and other polluters along the Hudson River.

All ostensibly convincing.  But my correspondent says it’s all deeply misleading: “Putnamers in general do not subscribe to the PR-based notion of Indian Point as a problem. That notion flies higher the further away from the animal itself one gets.”  He counters that Putnamers appreciate the employment Indian Point brings; fear that the alternative would be coal-fired power stations that would ruin the area’s excellent air quality; mistrust Riverkeeper and are generally weary of “negative snark” from ” the gentrification corps up from SoHo”.  Now, I live in Brooklyn, but I plead guilty of snarking without fact-checking.

Of course, it’s possible that my correspondent doesn’t speak for a majority in Putnam County either – for once, I’m going to allow comments on this post to see if anyone else from that part of the world wants to contribute (but if you wish to weigh in on the merits of Steeleye Span as political commentators go here instead).  Still, I’m convinced for now – as David has pointed out, energy and emissions issues are going to loom large in U.S. politics before and after the elections, so it’s good to look at the issues from the ground up.  My correspondent and I ended up 100% agreeing that everyone should spend some time in Putnam County – go to Cold Spring from Grand Central via Metro North.  It’s great.

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