Sunday, January 21, 2007

Indian Point...A Story of What If? Will You Survive? Do You Want To?

Have You Bought Your REACTOR Core Melt Down Shelter Yet?

The warning signs of a structure ready to collapse were all there, but no one wanted to listen, especially not the NRC, nor our Congressman John Hall. I and others like me were heretics, anti nuclear zealots out to beat up on CRIMES AND CORRUPTION OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER NEWS: NRC: Nuclear Workers Fear Retribution ~ Entergy, bent on closing viable, safe, secure and vital reactors in:

Indian Point 2 and 3...after all, who were we to demand the closure of two CO2 emissions free energy production units that were generating a daily cash flow beyond the imagination. The strontium-90 found on site and in the fish of the Hudson was ignored, blamed on anything and everything but Entergy, on their nuclear reactors. The Journal News had broken the story of the leaking fuel pools, so the powers that be had admitted to, but down played that problem, describing it as a small leak that they were aware of. 250,000 gallons a small leak? Our sources guessed that figure was understated, the real number at least five fold in volume. Our calls of alarm fell on the deaf ears of those who had bought into Entergy, NuStart, DOE, even the president's claims that nuclear was the new safe GREEN energy of the future, the Mother of a new Hydrogen Economy just over the next horizon.

My body riddled with cancers, distorted with growths and obscene moles of every kind, I have been told I am one of the lucky ones; I've lived to tell the tale, I remain behind after even the ghosts have gone, in what is now a ghost town, a ghost community that stretches South to what used to be New York City, and North almost to Albany. Perhaps I was too stubborn to die, or perhaps I wanted the chance to bitterly tell our government, the NRC, I told you so. For whatever reason, I survived, have lived to tell the tale.

Over the years since the incident I've traveled extensively through this desolate wasteland, collected over 23,000 skulls of those fortunate enough to have died in the first few hours as the twin cores melted down, plumes growing bigger and moving out to cover the land. There are a few others like myself, scavengers in a strange land. No one bothers us, the area still considered too radioactively contaminated for any kind of human habitation, but then we are no longer looked upon as human, seen and referred to as the Pointer's, those unfortunate enough to have survived, quarantined in the living hell that is the fall out from the event the experts said would never, could never be.

It had been your typical winter day, Channel 12 warning us that the snow that had been falling for the past day would continue, a Nor Easter that had stalled out right on top of us, the slight breezes swirling back and forth not enough to blow the storm further north or out to sea. We had 18 inches of snow already on the ground; they were predicting 8-12 more before the system would run out of steam. We were in one of those casual states of emergency that most ignored, the weatherman has instructed us to stay in doors and off the roads. But cabin fever saw a few brave souls trying to make it to the Walmart that used to be out on Route 6. My wife and I, we were hunkered down, had decided shoveling out the cars could wait until tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, as she would not be driving into the Bronx for work until the following Monday, the snow giving us and unexpected long weekend break snuggled up by the fire, warm cookies cooling on a plate as we sipped hot chocolate with just a touch of Grand Marnier.

Unknown to us, to the rest of the millions of people snow bound in their homes, apartments and condominiums, events had already started unfolding over at Indian Point, our lives, the lives of millions, the future of the world about to change in ways we never would have imagined.

The storm saw Indian Point working short handed, but no one was particularly concerned. Security had been pulled in from the perimeters; no one would be out and about in this kind of weather anyway. Besides, a few of the workers from the night shift were snoozing in the cafeteria, or watching TV in vacant offices, having made the decision that driving home was not a real option. Perhaps the technician in the control room missed the first few warning lights flashing red, maybe the guard in charge of scanning the bank of security monitors had turned away to chat with a buddy had missed the squad of men dressed in white arctic suits quietly, stealthily moving up from the woods along the rivers edge. Years later I retrieved the video streams from the hulking skeleton of the site, was able to piece this part of the history together from them.

These men moved with purpose, 27 of them in all, moving in from two different points of attack, one up, and one down river from the reactors. The first guard encountered by the group of 12 men coming in from the north never had a chance, standing just outside his running vehicle having a smoke; they made swift work of him. Switching to the streaming video from monitor 2 I watch as the second group of 15 men, all heavily armed move purposely to one of the spent fuel pools. I sit quietly, still stunned that no alarm had rung yet, amazed that none of us sitting in our homes, safe, secure, and vital had heard the sirens wailing call of warning, telling us an imminent danger was about to strike.

Switching again, the group of 12 had split up into two groups of six, one group on foot, the other in a commandeered vehicle belonging to a now dead guard…back to the other video, six plant guards burst into sight, two intruders die, but all six guards gave their life in the struggle.

My mind wondering back, remembering the day, it was at that moment that the sirens finally began to wail their sullen song…we’d heard it before, did not give it a second thought until a special Breaking News Alert interrupted our show. A reporter came on, obviously fighting to appear calm. “We interrupt to bring you this breaking news…there is a security breach at Indian Point. We are trying to get more details, but we suggest you make plans in case it becomes necessary to shelter in place.

We sat stunned, not sure what to do when the second announcement came…”The announcer was gone; instead we saw on our screen a military officer, his face grim, his words harsh. We have declared a state of Emergency for the area within the ten mile circle of Indian Point, we are recommending that all citizens begin implementing their plan to shelter in place. Stay tuned to this station for further details.

I’d read the Emergency Plan sent out by the folks from Emergency Management, had recognized its inherent flaws. On many occasions I’d raised concerns with Andy Spano’s office, spoken to NRC about the problems with their plan to shelter us in our homes. My words falling on closed minds, I’d created my own plan, but had hoped, even prayed I’d never have to put it into action. That hope was gone, something was happening at the plant, and with a deep sinking despair I kissed my wife’s tear away and told her to begin gathering the cats and bringing anything she could grab in the way of food and medicines from the rest of the house.

I threw on my parka and winter boots and rushed out into the dark as the hour approached six P.M. The snow was deep, the 10 degree temperature biting at my cheeks as I ripped open the door to our shed and began pulling out the five gallon containers of gasoline I’d stored there for just this event. One in each hand, ten trips back and forth and I had them lined up by our back porch door. Back to the shed again, and three more trips had three large military foot lockers lined up beside the containers of gas…my wife opened our back door and together we got everything inside and closed our door to the world and began moving into the basement not sure what was coming next.

My wife had turned on the TV in our kitchen, and coming up for my third group of gas cans I was STUNNED to hear the same military officer saying, “the control room has been compromised.” Fear sent the adrenalin coursing through every cell of my body, I screamed to my wife…get the fucking cats! MOVE GOD DAMMIT, we are running out of time!” I raced to get the trunks safely into the basement, stored the cans of gas in the room that housed our oil tank. My wife came stumbling down the stairs, tears streaming down her face, four of our cats in her arms.

She had her jobs to do, and I had mine…I started taping up, sealing off our windows. She ran into the downstairs bathroom and hooking a small hose up to the sink started to fill up one of the three large coolers we had bought for the purpose of having extra water on hand, and then ran upstairs to gather our other three cats, and grab those little mementos that women can’t seem to live without. I ran into the bathroom, put a lid on one cooler, and started filling another, then went back to taping up our windows.

My wife came down with another arm load of stuff; I had to smile seeing my favorite bottle of Scotch, and two pounds of gourmet coffee in the basket she was carrying. I was on the landing taping up our side door…she knew she was running out of time to safe guard her treasures and darted past me up the last five stairs into the kitchen. I briefly opened the door, and placed the insulation I’d bought for just this purpose up against the storm door, and closed the door. A piece of three quarter inch plywood was nailed into place as my wife appeared again, throwing stuff down the stairs to save herself some time.

Just as I finished putting up the last piece of tape over the plastic on this outside door my wife pleaded…help me DAMMIT, we have to get this stuff downstairs. Sometimes, my wife amazes me…she’d managed to gather twelve plastic laundry baskets full of stuff. Bottles of wine from the dining room, our wedding albums, pictures of her Mom and Dad, noodles from the kitchen cabinet that a friend had given us for Christmas. Smiling despite myself I told her to start sliding them over, and I ran each one down the short flight of steps, until there was but one left. Turning off the kitchen lights, she picked the basket up as I shut the door to our kitchen and sealed the door…our sheltering had officially begun.

On my way down the stairs I threw the emergency switch on our furnace, the instructions from the manual had seen me implement other plans for heat. We had almost five hundred gallons of oil in our basement, I’d had a friend put in a small system that would allow us to heat the three small rooms we were now in, both of us knowing if things got rough that we would bunker down in the utility/laundry room that I had equipped with a steel door, three dead bolts to lock us safely deep within. The gas was for our generator, but with luck the two solar panels on our roof would provide enough electricity for keeping in touch with the outside world, powering a small electric stove I’d installed in the corner of the laundry room, right beside the sink and keep a few other luxuries running for awhile.

After turning on the portable TV, my wife began putting her supplies away, setting up house, as if we both knew it would be awhile before we would again see the world outside of the bunker we had so carefully planned. I’d cleared out the four foot crawl space behind the washer and dryer and had moved in a full size bed months ago…she was busy putting on sheets, and had somehow managed to grab our favorite pillows from the master bedroom up in the attic.

Our basement windows were sealed off with plastic, but taking no chances I’d had them fitted with steel frames, and I began bolting down the quarter inch plate steel covers to keep intruders from getting in. Next I pulled the three foot lockers into the utility room, stored two of them away under the stairs, and opening the third started stacking ammunition onto shelves I’d build just for this purpose. My wife frowned…she never did like guns, but she turned away and started placing pictures around, doing her best to make this stark room seem at least a little bit like home.

We had both been keeping half an ear on the television as we worked, both stopped when it was announced that they had another BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. “Spent fuel pools have been compromised, a fire has erupted in the fuel pool for reactor two, a small plume has been reported by emergency personnel now at the perimeter of the site. The National Guard now has troops being deployed to Indian Point, and the president has ordered NORAD to scramble fighter jets to the area.” I reached out for my wife, held her close, hugged her tight and lied, “We’ll be fine, sweetie, we have everything we need to get through this.

I knew then it was too late, the event NRC wanted to discount was occurring, nothing any one could do would stop the chain reaction that was about to occur. Fighting my own tears, I gently pushed my wife away and said lets get to work, we have things to do. I checked our batteries, they were fully charged, pushed the button to make sure the exhaust fan system I had worked up for the heater was functioning, assuring myself that we could keep the fumes from the oil heating system down now that our boiler was shut down. I dragged our coolers into the utility room, pushed them under the sink. Screw gun in hand, I began putting up the brackets over the toilet, then placed a board over them. A large 100 gallon collapsible water container was opened up, and the hose again turned up…gravity would let us flush the toilet even if we lost our water supply from the outside world.

My wife had managed to put most of her things away, and had dumped both buckets of ice from our twin refrigerator freezers into a stainless steel cooler that sat beside the sink, it’s lid altered to include a chopping block counter top to complete our small kitchen. Looking around, I was pleased…we had one small room that could serve as our den. Both our laptops were there, plenty of pencils and paper, and of course every bit of art supplies my wife could cram in. Both my easels were there, the room finished off with an old love seat sofa and a ratty chair. The large room still had our gym equipment in it, and over by the stairs sat a table and four chairs that could be moved into the utility room if things got tough.

We had a very small but full bath with shower, though no guarantees how long that would be of any use, and the utility room would serve as both kitchen and bedroom, and as long as public water held out, we might even be able to wash a few clothes. The wall behind the boiler was floor to ceiling shelves, each of them filled with every kind of dried and canned food you could think of, lined up on the floor were gallons and gallons of spring water, and more than a few cases of our favorite soda’s and some Lipton tea. Perhaps best of all, two small closets had been converted into a wine cellar years before…at least our dinners would maintain a certain touch of normalcy…”sweetie, which would you prefer, red or white?”

It was while taking stock of our situation that the lights flickered came back on…my wife, “Honey, I’m scared”…then went off for good.

The sirens blared on as I felt my way through the dark to the small table and grabbed a flashlight. “We’re fine honey; everything is going to be OK. Why don’t you pick out a bottle of wine while I light a few candles?”

I retrieved three tea candles, and once their soft warm glow lit the utility and main basement rooms up, I made my way into the small oil tank room and switched us over to our solar battery system. The lights briefly came on, but we went around turning off all of them to conserve the stored power that we had. The TV was left on, the refrigerators and freezer left plugged in…the food in these would run out long before we would have to worry about the power being used, but for now we could at least eat well, keep our strength up for the days ahead, at most maybe a few weeks?

That first night, in fact many of the first nights were eerily beautiful. It was just the two of us alone in our basement, the fear of the events unfolding outside bringing us intimately closer than we’d perhaps ever been. We’d shared two glasses of wine over a simple dinner that first night, though we’d promised in our plan we would have only one. We’d moved the small TV into our small make shift den, lit another tea candle and curled up on the sofa under a quilt to put off the time before having to turn on the heating system, begin using up our precious fuel.

We felt the first explosion even before we heard it, the earth moaning as if being ripped to her core, and in some ways she was as Reactor Three was the first to be breeched, the steam and hydrogen ripping the dome off with ease as a cloud of radioactive particulates lifted into the heavens, mixing with the gently falling snow. Ten minutes later when the News Break came in, we already knew…the reports doubted anyone within one mile of the plant had survived, National Guard, Emergency First Responders and the invasion force all dead. It would be another two hours before the second reactor exploded, my wife curled up, whimpering in my arms.

The incident as it was called took down the grid in seventeen states, New York plunged into darkness as Dante’s inferno rained down a radioactive hell on those the hypothermia did not take. As the days and weeks went by, as reports trickled in, the number of dead grew until it exceeded 3.5 million souls. After the second day we had decided to limit our intake of reports, spending our days listening to CD’s, drawing, writing, reading, crying and doing what we could to survive. For safety we’d moved the kitchen table into the utility room, and once dinner was served, would lock ourselves in. We’d turn in early, usually around nine and lay awake in our little bed watching the reports for a few hours before blowing out our tea candle and trying to get some sleep. We both felt weak, had developed coughs, and occasionally brought up blood…try as we might, we could not keep out the poisons that would eventually deform our bodies, slowly change us into something ugly and diseased, make us into what the world would come to know us as, the Pointers who had survived.

Royce Penstinger
GNB publisher

Post-scriptum by RemyC:
Caution, this is only fiction... It has not happened... This is NOT a news item... Yet, this Orson Wellsian "War of the World" radio broadcast scenario is sadly, all too plausible.

I'm very cautious of such writings, because I know the power of manifestation... It was only two weeks after the movie China Syndrome hit the big screen that Three Mile Island nearly consumed half of Pennsylvania. It was only two days after this blog posted verbatim concerns the nuclear industry has about long term viability of weld joints, that folks in Minnesota ducked another bullet caused by, guess what? Failing weld joints... forcing Entergy to send out a Nationwide advisory to all its other plants, omitting Indian Point from the mix, because IP is a pressurized water reactor (PWR). All the others mentioned, including Monticello, are boiler water reactors (BWR).

Royce's b-horror frightfest above, echoes another such rant, written by Helen Caldicott and read aloud September 17th, 2006 to a crowd of two hundred in White Plains. IPSEC sells the DVD. You can read Helen's chapter on Indian Point going critical in "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer."

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