On Wednesday, April 17 at 7 PM, Transition Ferndale will host the film, “Knocking on the Devil’s Door,” with discussion following. The location is the Ferndale Public Library, 222 East Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI. The event is free. Everyone is welcome. You need not be a resident of Ferndale to attend.

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons is a complicated subject, and it is easy for public attention to slide away from it, because it can be a frightening or even depressing thing to study. Whether we are comfortable doing it or not, we are forced to learn about the potential dangers, because – well, there are numerous reasons, but for starters, 9 Mile and Woodward is only 35 miles away from the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan.

When the Fukushima reactors melted down, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission advised US citizens in Japan to get at least 50 miles away from Fukushima. In other words, Ferndale is deep within the evacuation zone for a Fermi 2 meltdown. Since the Fermi 2 reactor shares the General Electric Mark 1 design with the reactors at Fukushima, a Fermi meltdown is a real possibility.

A tsunami at Monroe is unlikely, but earthquakes, tornadoes and terrorism are certainly possible. Much of the equipment at Fermi 2, which has been operating since 1988, is worn out or corroded. The controls are certainly outdated, and the designers who made them are mostly retired or dead. Consequently, operator mistakes leading to a series of unfortunate accidents at the reactor are all too likely.

If there is a meltdown, and the wind is blowing this way, then Ferndale may need to be permanently evacuated. If that happens, it completely nullifies all the efforts we have put into creating a walkable, bikeable community. It obliterates community gardens. It renders meaningless rebuilding of houses to be energy efficient and anything else done here for environmental sustainability.

We may not want to be interested in the dangers of nuclear power, but so to speak, those dangers may become interested in us anyway. Possibly, we can create a movement to shut down Fermi 2 before it shuts us down, and can preserve the steps toward sustainability that have been taken locally. That’s the local angle. It’s not a bad thing to be thinking about as we approach Earth Day, 2013 (Monday, April 22).

For a review of the film, see http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/779/1/. Here’s a short quote from the review: “The film reminds us of basics that we would rather forget: there is no radioactive-waste disposal system that works long term. The stuff is piling up and leaking. It is dangerous and causes cancer and birth defects. All nuclear power plants are ticking time-bombs for accidents, natural disasters, or terrorism.”

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