Vacation in the Shadow of Mount Doom

Not surprisingly, the web page for the beach house we rented a couple weeks ago with friends did not mention the gigantic nuclear cooling tower that dominated the horizon less than a mile away. This was the “David-Besse Nuclear Power Plant”:, near Sandusky, Ohio.

When was the last time you ever gave a thought to nuclear energy? Having never lived in its orbit, I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it that much. I know enough not to be particularly freaked out about it, intellectually speaking. And yet, if it’s something outside your everyday experience, there’s still something freaky about it. Driving past it on Route 2 on the way in, I got butterflies in my stomach. Seeing it every day never made it any less foreboding — we took to referring to it as Mount Doom.

Most of our power plants are hidden from view, one way or another. But a cooling tower is a landmark, especially in a region as flat as northern Ohio. The structure itself is huge, and the plume of steam rising from the top is visible for many miles all around. Though that particular one has had its share of problems, it’s never had a leak or a major accident, and yet I couldn’t help myself from considering what the implications might be of being this close from it in case of a meltdown, and noting with relief that the wind would be coming off the lake and thus blowing the radiation _away_ from is, into the vast uninhabited swampy area that’s (not coincidentally, no doubt) downwind of the plant site.

I’m sure there’s any number of potentially-dangerous power-plant sites, chemical depots, or who-knows-what-else within a mile or two of where I live. But I don’t give them another thought, while the sight of Besse-Davis gives me butterflies. Just something’ ’bout that ol’ nukelear energy, I guess.