Left: Enrico Fermi nuclear generating station
(Newport, MI) Admittedly, I grew up during the Cold War, and my suspicious attitudes toward nuclear power also reflect the fact that I lived during the media frenzies surrounding the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Moreover, as teenager I went to see the 1979 film The China Syndrome, which frightened me far more than any slasher film ever could.
So it is in the context of these lifelong doubts about the safety of nuclear power that I made a trip to view the Fermi II nuclear plant up close.
Before arriving I had visions of being swarmed by armed security personnel demanding my ID and confiscating my digital camera, all in the name of homeland security. Unfortunately for my paranoid fantasies and photographic plans, the plant stands over a mile away from the entrance checkpoints, and my naive thoughts of sauntering up and staring up at the cooling towers were set aside by a concrete-barricaded guard facility.
I settled instead for a few shots on a dirt road overlooking a corn field, and the only people remotely interested in me were the farmers on Leroux Road whose dinner I might have interrupted, had they bothered to notice the bespectacled interloper on the side of the road.
No clandestine trips to Guantanamo Bay for me tonight.
Thus, my efforts to stand face-to-face with a source of latent fear came to naught, and the mile-high steam clouds wafted to the east over Lake Erie, never even dropping a few stray radioactive particles on my head, and - if I was the subject of curiosity by security personnel - I could have only merited the recording of a license plate number.
I'll let you know if my trips to or from Europe this summer include special attention by customs officials. If having pictures of nuclear plants on my flash drive
puts me on a watch list, I would bet that passing through customs will be an interesting excursion.