Oklahomans are Calling for a Nuclear Power Plant
There is a growing sentiment throughout Oklahoma's social media circles about nuclear power and the promise of clean energy. People are convinced the idea of a nuclear power plant has never been pitched in the Sooner State before, but they're wrong.
I wasn't born when this story takes place, but I used to work with a guy that once shared his story of Oklahoma's nuclear ambitions and his willingness to protest it because he was trying to date a hippie girl at the time.
When people think about nuclear power, they inevitably think of the images we've become so cultured to throughout the history of weapons development in America.
Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Bikini Atoll, etc... Images like this.
Between the testing and sheer destruction of nuclear weapons, there is also a fair amount of trauma and PTSD among the older Baby Boomers who lived through the atomic age and Cold War.
Believe it or not, when Boomers were kids, they used to practice nuclear attack drills where they would crawl under their government-acquired school desks for adequate shelter... from a nuclear blast.
Living under the constant threat of this totally realistic event happening at any given moment, it's understandable how anything "nuclear" could be thought of as negative.
Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant
In May of 1973, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) proposed building the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant near Inola, Oklahoma in order to produce relatively cheap, safe, and clean energy for the people of this state, but the project instantly incurred a heap of pushback from all sides.
The oil and gas industry was likely lobbying against it just as much as the granola Boomers. Within days of the project being announced, it was tied up in court as to whether it could happen or not.
Thanks to Netflix, most young people are familiar with the story of Chernobyl, but that didn't happen until 1986. The nuclear incident that directly affected the Black Fox project happened across the country in Pennsylvania.
Three Mile Island
Pennsylvania was alive and buzzing with nuclear power during this period of time. The first power plant on Three Mile Island came online in 1974 and pumped out clean steam energy until the second power plant suffered a catastrophic failure in 1979, about four months after coming online.
A mechanical failure was compounded by human mistakes, and it turned into a fourteen-year-long nightmare for the people in and around the plant. The partial meltdown was cleaned up and power plant one went back online in 1993, providing clean nuclear power until it was closed due to revenue loss in 2019.
Power plant two never came back online. It was tombed off similar to Chernobyl.
Protests in Inola
About two months after the meltdown on Three Mile Island, protestors hopped the fence at Black Fox in Inola to stop construction. Even though an estimated 500 protestors were arrested, they were able to disrupt the plans.
My old coworker that was there said he left before the policing got out of hand. He wanted to date that attractive flower-power lady, but he also had a day job he couldn't risk losing.
The fighting continued in the courts until 1982 when PSO finally decided to abandon the project altogether. Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant instantly became a lesser-known piece of Oklahoma history.
Will Oklahoma ever go nuclear?
While nuclear power has become some of the safest and cleanest over the years, most people don't think Tornado Alley is the best location to place a potential catastrophe like this.
All the same, there are a handful of nuclear power plants in our region that seem to get along just fine with Mother Nature. The only accidents on record at those in Texas and Arkansas are construction accidents, nothing in terms of public-irradiating thermonuclear meltdown.
I suppose the odds would be akin to getting attacked by a shark in Iowa. Sure, the odds are pretty low, but they aren't zero.