Updated: April 24, 2011 12:22AM
Back in the idyllic ’70s and the romantic ’80s, when the ComEd nuclear plant in Zion was making electricity and filling the city’s coffers with tax revenue, we used to get a flier every so many months detailing evacuation routes in case “something” happened.
It had a “circle of doom” that grew ever larger in case something really happened. If “China Syndrome” actually occurred and Michael Douglas would not be showing up with a news crew.
Of course, the flier had Zion at ground zero if any incident or accident happened at the nuke plant. Winthrop Harbor, Beach Park, Waukegan, Wadsworth, Park City were all in that “circle of doom”. You might have been safe from any radioactive cloud if you lived in Mundelein. Maybe.
Like many of you, I didn’t give that flier a second thought and tossed it; I certainly couldn’t have figured out the evacuation route because I never studied it. The directions were something like: “Drive like hell west.” Unless the wind was blowing off the lake.
As a believer in American ingenuity and technological wonders, it never crossed my mind that there would be a breakdown of some sort and the plant would have to go into meltdown mode and begin releasing radioactive steam.
I went about my daily chores ignoring the threat looming along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Instead, I used to thank ComEd, now Exelon, and our state for being so scientifically advanced. I considered us lucky to have harnessed nuclear energy to produce power to run the Mattel Intellivision game set, stereo tuner and receiver, and TV and VCR.
Even Three Mile Island and Chernobyl failed to daunt my belief that nuclear energy would eventually allow us to break the yoke of fossil fuels. If we have nuclear-powered seacraft, we could all drive nuclear-powered cars.
Since then, the nuclear plant has closed, the radioactive rods which once fueled the twin reactors are still swimming in a water bath. And, the worst of the worst has happened in Japan. Already devastated by a massive earthquake and giant tsunami, the Japanese people are again exposed to the dangers of radiation.
Even hearing the news from Japan that food has tested for radioactivity, more of us believe nuclear power is safe and that more nuclear plants should be built in the U.S. I’m in that category.
They may be neat, handy and those Illinois nuke plants put out the power. But not in my back yard this time around.
While you’re at it, move those spent fuel rods out of Zion. The sooner, the better.