Thursday, January 6, 2011

Déjà Vu All Over Again . . . Again

After I mentioned Congressman Chris Gibson's intention to site nuclear power plants in his district yesterday, two readers told me about a plan introduced in 1974 to build a nuclear power plant across the river in Cementon (now Smiths Landing). The project, called the Greene County Nuclear Power Plant, was cancelled in 1979, not long after the partial core meltdown at Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania. 

Gossips is always interested in history, because, as George Santayana said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it," so I've started researching the Greene County Nuclear Power Plant. Here's some of what I've found so far.

From the Schenectady Gazette, October 4, 1974:

"Possible sites for a nuclear power plant, to be constructed by the New York State Power Authority, have been reduced to two, both in Greene County.

"The possible power plant sites are at the site of the Lehigh Cement Co. property in Cremention [sic] and a location near Athens, betweeen the New York Central Rail Lines and Flats Road Extension.

From the Fulton Patriot, January 18, 1977:

"New York State Power Authority (SPA) Chairman James A. FitzPatrick called today for prompt construction of the SPA's Greene County Nuclear Power Plant. . . .

"The plant, scheduled for completion in 1984, requires approval of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. The two agencies will hold joint hearings on the SPA's application, the first such procedure in New York State. Today's session at Columbia-Greene Community College was devoted to statements by the public and other interested parties and will be followed by the evidentiary phase of the hearings. . . .

""Like the Authority's existing projects, the Greene County plant will further the well-being of this state and those who live in it,' said Mr. FitzPatrick [in a statement submitted for the opening of the hearings]. 'Like the existing projects, it will be a good neighbor.'

"The SPA Chairman refuted claims that the plant is intended to serve only the New York City area.

"'About 100,000 kilowatts of the plant's [1,200,000-kilowatt] output will be made available for sale for industrial development here in Greene and Columbia Counties,' he said. . . .

"Mr. FitzPatrick said construction and operation of the plant 'will bring significant economic benefits to the local community and the state as a whole.

"'Some 2,100 workers will be employed at the peak of construction,' he said, 'with an annual payroll during this period of $46 million. The total payroll for the six-year construction period will exceed $168 million. Moreover, studies conducted for the Power Authority indicate that during construction more than 3,500 additional jobs will be created in the region as an indirect result of the project.'

"The SPA Chairman stated that construction will require purchase of $60 million worth of materials, with many of the purchases made locally.

"During operation, he said the plant will permanently employ about 200 persons and will have a projected annual payroll of more than $4 million.

"'The plant at Cementon,' he said, 'will occupy land that is now largely unused. The Power Authority intends to make payment in lieu of taxes on the land it acquires for the plant, thereby protecting the local governments from a reduction in their tax base.'

"Mr. FitzPatrick noted that 'both state and local governments will receive sizable tax payments generated by employment and housing associated with the plant.' He said it is anticipated that local property tax revenues will increase by $150,000 at the peak of construction, when about 150 workers are expected to seek permanent housing, and by $100,000 annually during operation.

"In addition, he said the SPA is considering 'various improvements that could be built in conjunction with the project and would benefit the area.'. . .

"He stated that 'the plant will be constructed and operated in accordance with strict government regulations and that extensive studies have established that it will not adversely affect human, animal or plant life, air or water quality, weather conditions or the social and economic fabric of the area.'. . ."


  1. Chuck Hallenbeck submitted this comment:

    Very interesting. My high school classmate Charlie Judson, HHS 1949, was among a group of anti-nuclear activists who demonstrated against the construction of the nuclear power facility you described. I only learned of that fact upon my return to Hudson in 1996 after my retirement, when I renewed my acquaintance with Charlie. Had I been here at the time, I like to think I would have joined him and the others in their action. I'm sorry you did not find any reference to the demonstrations in the public media.

    At the time, Judson was president of the United Steelworkers local union at the V and O Press Company on route 66, a supplier of punch presses for the manufacture of munitions at various locations around the country. The presses were shipped by rail from the route 66 plant, in crates with the V and O logo emblazened on the side. The logo was the two letters, V and O, superimposed. Charlie had a stencil made to transform the logo into a peace symbol, so that for a time, those huge munitions stamping machines left here, headed for their final destinations, with a very prominent peace symbol for all to see.

  2. Some might think this is good for business, but the day they start building one of these in Athens is the day I put my place up for sale and leave town!


  3. The town next to the Yankee Nuclear Plant in Vermont was decimated when it was built. Not good for the real estate or comfort in living dept.