A Letter from Energy Justice Carolina

July 15, 2008 at 11:31 pm 2 comments

Life in Jenkinsville hasn’t been so quiet or calm of late. While the community has lived for 26 years with a one reactor nuclear facility just across the lake, South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper now want to build two more reactors. And nobody in Jenkinsville can understand why.

After being gone for what seemed like an especially long three weeks, I finally got back into the Jenkinsville yesterday. My first stop was the senior citizens group at the AME church. I got there a little late and scraped open the door right in the middle of a presentation being given by a woman from the Fairfield County Sherif’s Department. Most of my elders smiled when they saw it was me, and there was just a hint of mischief in their eyes that told me they were enjoying the fact that it was the crazy little 20 year old making the scene, like a child interrupting her teacher. Afterwards we got to talk and catch up and I tried to get Ms Dottie to let me help clean up after lunch, but there was “nothing left to do.” There’s never anything left to do when I ask.

So I said goodbye to Ms Dottie with promises that I’d be back soon and went out to do some follow up visits to the folks we’d listened to at our first training camp a few weekends back. I found Mr Willie sitting under a tall pine in his front yard. We talked a little about the nuclear station, about the heartbreaking number of people in the community suffering from cancer, but our conversation wound around to life in general and before I knew it Mr. Willie was sharing his momma’s wisdom with me: “always treat others how you want to be treated.” There was no trace of anger or pain or irony in his voice, only a profound truth and honesty: as if he didn’t really need to remind me, as if no one should need reminding of the golden rule.

In that moment I wanted to cry and hug Mr Willie all at the same time. In the context of our discussion, in the framework of this community’s struggle, it was just too overwhelming. And he wasn’t even thinking about the nuclear station or his own life, he was concerned about problems I’d been having.

But the lesson is obviously one that wasn’t so universally taught. It doesn’t surprise me that most of the employees at the nuclear station don’t live in the Jenkinsville community and that none are petitioning for nuclear facilities to be built in their neighborhoods, but it does upset me. And no one from SCE&G or Santee Cooper is asking the people of Jenkinsville if they want these new reactors sitting upwind of their homes. In fact, the utilities are trying to push forward with this project without any public hearings. Tomorrow they will be asking the Public Service Commission to grant them permission to begin pre-construction construction. It’s time we all demanded that our voices be heard, but most of all that the people of Jenkinsville be heard!

If you want to get involved in the listeing projects in Jenkinsville or in any other capacity, please contact sara tansey at sara@climateaction.net or visit our facebook group: Energy Justice Carolina. Thanks sincerely!!

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Entry filed under: southern energy network.

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