Living near a Nuclear Power Plant: Pros and Cons

I lived in the shadow of a nuclear power plant in Ontario, NY. I’ve seen both sides.

Palm Coast, FL – March 23, 2011 – With Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis still unresolved, people and their governments around the world are reassessing the safety of their nuclear plants. A Reuters’ story suggests that buyers will discount the value of homes near nuclear plants despite years of safe operations.
I grew up in Ontario, N.Y., a small town along the shore of Lake Ontario, 20 miles east of Rochester. There were only 66 students in my 1961 graduating class; the school district included two towns. We were so small we couldn’t afford a football team. But since 1970, Ontario has had an operating nuclear power plant. The Robert E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant was originally built by Rochester Gas & Electric. It’s now owned by Constellation Energy.
Over a period of years, I lived in two separate homes only a few miles downwind from Ginna. Hardly anyone paid much attention to the plant itself or to the several warning sirens located around town. Frequent tests of the warning system were comforting.
The most noticeable impact of the plant was its impact on local property taxes. I recall that when built, the plant accounted for more than half the town’s total taxable value. I think I remember Ontario’s taxes being about half those of adjoining towns. For years, the town and the school district thrived as the town transitioned from a rural farming community to a great place for Rochester workers to live. Real estate was made more attractive by lower property taxes. The much larger school district now boasts a football team.
I was living there in January 1982 when a small amount of radioactive steam leaked into the air after a steam-generator tube ruptured. The leak which lasted 93 minutes led to the declaration of a site emergency but no local evacuations. We were concerned, but our concerns were short-lived.
The Reuters’ story speculates on whether value reductions will be short or long lived. "Just how temporary — and how big — any negative impact might be remains to be seen, Clark [a professor of economics at Marquette University] and others say. If, for example, one or more of the crippled nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant go into complete meltdown and there’s a large release of radiation into the air, the chilling effect — and with it, a downward push on home values in nuclear towns like Buchanan, New York. Plymouth, Massachusetts, and San Luis Obispo, California — could last longer than the maximum of two to three years economists would consider temporary."
I plan to visit Ontario twice this summer; once in July for my grandson’s wedding and again in August for my 50th high school reunion.

6 replies
  1. Jim Growney
    Jim Growney says:

    Ontario NY

    Toby: long time since we communicated. Still at Quail West and we are doing very well post Bobby Ginn. Housing sales are strong this year and last and added 50 new golf members in last 12 months.Thank God
    Anyway, I am a Rochestarian and still have a home in Pittsford.Ontario Golf Club now called Brookwoods and owned by Mike Lawler. We are hosting the 26th annual Rochester Waterford Ireland Sisters City Tournament on June 1, 2011.
    If that date coincides with one of your visit dates, let me know if you would like to join the Irish for a fun day.
    Lt Gov Bob Duffy is honorary Chairman.

  2. robert logan
    robert logan says:

    nuclear risks

    I lived 15 miles from The Three Mile Island
    Nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania when it almost melted down. Nobody knew what to do to shut it down. Got conflicting news every day. Slept with my bedroom window open in March so we could hear the warning sirens in case it blew up. We lived out of a suitcase for a week. Found out that the utility (GPU at that time) was libel for pennies on the dollar for lost real estate values due to radiation . You will never convince me or anybody living near Three Mile Island that nuclear energy is a good choice for a power plant. Clean up coal or use Natural gas but DON’T even consider nuclear

  3. Jack Lillywhite
    Jack Lillywhite says:

    Nukes as Neighbors


    I worked on both Calvert Cliffs 1&2 as well as Midland 1&2. Both PWR’s like Ginna which we also built. I did start up on Calvert Cliffs including initial fueling. More people have died in certain Mass. politician’s cars then have ever died from a nuke in America. By the way, steam is invisible. What happened at Ginna was incosequential. The same at TMI. There is still to this day no discernable health anomalies or risk as a result of the accident at TMI. Do your readers understand the radiation health risk they run every time they fly or lay out in the sun? Multiple times more than living or working in a nuclear power plant. When the saga of Fukushima is settled it will prove a 40 year old design held up to a seismic event 700 times more magnitude then designed for and anunprecedented tsunami on top of it.

  4. Dave
    Dave says:

    X-rays and cellphones are greater risk than nuclea

    It is amazing the amount of fear that the media spreads about radiation risk. When the Fukushima dasaster is finally contained, I will bet that very few people(except for the brave "Fukushima 50" who put their life on the line to
    ‘save face" for the Japanese nation) will die from radiation exposure.Except for Chernobyl, this was the greatest nuclear plant disaster in the history of nuclear plants and in the final analysis, more people die each year from coal and nat gas mining disasters than this will have caused. To shun nuclear power because of this unfounded "fear" shows how ridiculous human beings are. We subject ourselves to dental and chest xrays and stick cellphones to the side of our heads like they were surgically planted and these have hundreds of times more radiation risk than the emissions from Fukushima.

    Would we rather suffer rolling brown-outs and black-outs because we can’t provide enough power with solar, wind and fossil fuels rather than use nuclear, which will be made even more safe with the lessons learned from Fukushima?

    I lived near the Shippingsport Nuclear Power plant when it was being built and when it became operational. I remeber the "crazies" who protested against it then, but, who seemed to embrace it once on-line and reducing our property taxes and significantly enhancing our power supply.

    To all the "anti-nukes"; irrational fear holds back more humans from accomplishing "great things" because they can’t seem to bring themselves to overcome their fears. We need "nuclear power" to meet our energy needs and to keep our great country growing. China is not going to stop building nuclear plants and they are already close to overcoming the USA as the power of the world. To give into the anti-nuke crazies is just another reason why we will be relegated to a second class nation.

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