Nuclear Star

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.”

—Anonymous

 

I celebrate alone, entering my fortieth year of fame.  Everyone knows me; they’ve all heard my name.  The world won’t recognize Berwick, Salem, Peach Bottom, or the place near Springfield (not the one with the donut-eating man who drools when he sleeps on the job, the real one in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania).  Oyster Creek, Beaver Valley, Hope Creek, and dozens of others won’t ring a bell, but they’ll recall me with emotion or story, and often with myth as well—I’m a Nuclear Star.

I’m the ultimate thriller, generating anxiety from day one.  My worldwide debut was the stuff of legend; you saw me on the news.  You remember all the dramatic tension, don’t you?  Like all celebrities, I blew off a little steam, had a little gas, and then everyone waited, trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  But I kept things under wraps, shrouded in a fog of mystery, not a sole eyewitness to the events in my inner sanctum.  Confusion reigned.  There was a sense of great danger and imminent catastrophe.  There prevailed a sweaty uncertainty over the threat of disaster and invisible death.

Would I melt down?

Would I blow my top?

Those iconic and sinister towers, what kind of horrid poisons pour from them to burn the sky and land?

The world needed to know.  People demanded information.

Well, I know your trust in me was eroded and you felt deceived by my agents.  You saw it, how they withered in the spotlight of fame while trying to protect themselves and the new Nuclear Star.  The uncertainty they caused motivated many of my neighbors to leave.  Many more were pushed beyond rational skepticism about me to an enduring cynicism which persists to this day.  Fortunately, a genuine, competent, straight-talking communicator arrived to allay everyone’s fears with frank and understandable explanations of the situation.  Then, a visit by the President of the United States assuaged the trepidations of a frightened public and provided reassurance to those who left that it was safe to return.

I want everyone to know that I had plans for a long quiet career.  Then, three months into it, a handler pressed my buttons the wrong way and I’ve been in the limelight ever since.  I did melt down a bit, but thanks to a timely intervention, I didn’t drop through the floor.  For the same reason, I didn’t go through the roof either.  You need to know that I’m no bomb.  I was built to last for the long haul, and I won’t go to pieces.  Remember, I’m a Nuclear Star.  Oh, and those really are just big fluffy white steam clouds coming out of those towers, nothing more.  It’s true.

I’m really not so scary.  There’s no scheming evil little man hiding in my shadow planning the demise of the planet.  Only the flies sit around rubbing their tiny hands together as they contemplate their next move, and I’ll remind you that not even one of them was hurt here.

I’m a Nuclear Star; my legacy is secured.  Come look at me and feel the awe.  After all these years, I continue to make nervous those who see me in person.  You’ll still see the crowds and cameras outside my gates from time to time, demanding to know what kind of devious scheme is being hatched inside.  I remain a central figure, but typecast as the villain.  Without fail, I’m presumed to be the deleterious factor when man or nature ails.  It’s not the coal-choker down the river, or the dam wall next door.  It’s not the smoldering trash cookers north and south, or the sludge on the fields.  It’s not the junk mixed into the food, or the spraying willy-nilly.  Nor is it the filth in the water, the lazy life, or the smog in the city.  It’s not the cigarette in your mouth, the synthetics in your house, the hours in your car.  It’s Three Mile Island.  That’s what did it.  I’m a Nuclear Star.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station.  Unit 2 (left) has been shut down since the March 28, 1979 accident and partial meltdown.  Unit 1 (right) is currently operating and producing electricity.

Oh, and by the way, the plant in Montgomery County is called Limerick, in case you were wondering.

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