by Michael Steinberg
Saturday, Jun. 02, 2018 at 6:05 AM
You could say it all began at Cod on the east coast, with the Pilgrims, emphasis on grim.
US history indoctrination begins early in our lives. Before formal education even begins we are taught to look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, an annual celebration that upon sober reflection really celebrates gluttony, greed and genocide. Youngsters are taught how European invaders and indigenous people came together as equals to share a bountiful harvest and smoke the peace pipe.
But as recounted in Henry David Thoreau's book Cape Cod, the reality was far different The English ship Mayflower set forth from Plymouth in 1620 with a group of future interloper passengers called Pilgrims-emphasis on the grim.
They were headed for the colony of Virginia, which unbeknownst to them had already failed, but with permission from a Brit capitalist outfit to plunder and pillage there. For this venture they chose late in the year to embark on this illfated venture, and the wintry Atlantic forced them to land hundreds of miles north, with permission from no one. The native people in what came to be called Massachusetts found them ignorant and offensive, and chased them out of their initial landing locale. At a second spot they disembarked at a a rock, naming the spot unoriginally Plymouth and the stepping stone Plymouth Rock.
Various accounts agree that the invaders wouldn't have survived their first year their without the material aid of the indigenous people, who the English later tried to exterminate. In recent years surviving descendants of these native peoples have banded together in Plymouth on a the last Thursday of November to fiercely protest the shameful colonial history and reclaim their identity and heritage. At first they were met with police violence, but more recently have won begrudging acceptance from the pale faces.
Over 350 years after the incursion of the Pilgrims, their name took on a new bur similarly sinister meaning when the Pilgrim nuclear power plant opened at Plymouth in 1974. The plant's one nuclear reactor is called a boiling water reactor, the same model as the three Fukushima reactors that melted down in 2011.
This nuke plant is located along the main highway on Cape Cod where hordes of Bostonians cruise by cranberry bogs on their way to Provincetown and points in between during summer months.
The Pilgrim nuke plant is now 44 years old. Nuclear plants were designed to operate for only 40 years. In recent years Pilgrim has become increasingly troublesome and unstable, and is scheduled to close permanently before June of next year. Yet its owner, Entergy of New Orleans, which bought Pilgrim in 1999, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), still allow it to keep running.
On May 1 the Cape Cod Times reported that Pilgrim "shut down for the third time this year." This time the problem involved "two valves that regulate the amount of water in the aging reactor."
The Times also reported that Pilgrim's reactor had been "out of service 54 of 121 days" this year and had operated only "44% of the time since January 1."
Similar valve problems forced Pilgrim to shut down in February 2017 and September 2016. These chronic recurring problems forced the NRC to classify Pilgrim as a Column 4 nuclear plant, one step away from requiring mandatory permanent shutdown. Only two other nuke plants in the US are Column 4, both also owned by Entergy.
The Cape Cod Times quoted David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a former nuclear industry official: "Two years after the NRC placed Pilgrim into Column 4 due to performance shortcomings and after many months of assurances from Entergy and the NRC that conditions are improving, Pilgrim remains the worst performing reactor in the country by far."
Mary Lambert of citizen's group Pilgrim Watch was more succinct in her assessment of this situation."She would like the nuclear plant closed immediately," the Cape Cod Times reported.
Sources: Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod; Cape Cod Times, capecodtimes.com
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