Pam's Points: Quick thoughts about the week's headlines

Pam's Points: Quick thoughts about the week's headlines

June 14th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Zombie nuclear plant idea

Bellefonte Nuclear Plant - often called the zombie plant that wouldn't die - today is slightly less of a giant money suck for the 7 million customers who buy electricity generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. That's because TVA on Wednesday announced plans to lay off 400 of the 540 workers there.

Bellefonte is the $5 billion, unfinished TVA nuclear plant in Hollywood, Ala., 43 miles southwest of Chattanooga.

Yes, you heard that right: $5 billion and unfinished despite the fact that it was started in 1974 -- 39 years ago. And no, it has never generated the first watt of electricity. Finishing the plant would cost at least another $4.9 billion, according to TVA.

Thank goodness TVA on Wednesday announced that once again (this is about the fifth time) the federal utility is at least slowing further work at Bellefonte.

It is a shame that 400 people -- mostly contractors but also 80 TVA employees -- are losing their jobs, but there is something inherently wrong with continuing to work on a nuclear plant with a 1960s design and 40-year-old concrete and not enough demand in the valley for electricity to continue beating this dead horse. Especially in a time when it is clear that nuclear power is not as safe -- and not as cheap -- as Americans have been led to believe.

TVA's board of directors voted in 2011 to finish the original reactors at Bellefonte, after years of fits and starts and even cannibalizing already installed parts there. But the directors were clear with TVA staff: There would be no construction work at Bellefonte until Watts Bar Unit 2 is complete and fuel is loaded at the new Spring City, Tenn., reactor. Watts Bar -- three years behind and $2 billion over budget -- isn't expected to be complete until 2015.

So why were 540 people still working at Bellefonte anyway? Five hundred and forty people makes for a lot of engineering studies at a half-finished plant where no construction is supposed to be happening anyway.

Several years ago, TVA toured journalists at the mothballed plant to talk up plans of reviving construction. The cavernous, dark, rusting and empty plant was eerie.

But here's an idea for putting those 400 folks back to work: Entice a movie maker to film a movie there. It's a ideal setting for a zombie flick.

And just think: It is in Hollywood, Ala.

Churches and Boy Scouts

Here's a message to Boy Scouts whose churches locally have decided to drop their sponsorships of Scout troops because the national scouting organization has decided to allow openly gay members.

You don't need those churches. You will be better off with new sponsors who truly believe in preaching love and acceptance and tolerance and appreciation of all people.

Boy Scouts have met at Morris Hill Baptist Church in Chattanooga since the 1930s. But come December the church doors will be closed to Scouts because of the national organization's new policy, made in May.

"The decision by our leadership is due to moral issues and liability issues," said Bill Mason, senior pastor of 400-plus member Morris Hill Baptist. "Their concern was, if they make a decision" on the suitability of a Scout for whatever reason, "they have the possibility of being sued."

Funny thing, work places don't get sued because gays work there. But they might if they choose not to hire someone just on that basis. Restaurants don't get sued because they serve gays.

But last February, Oakwood Baptist Church of Chickamauga dropped its troop, too.

The decision by Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay Scouts is to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. On Wednesday, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution expressing its opposition to the Boy Scouts of America's new policy, though the resolution doesn't explicitly call for churches to drop all ties with the Scouts.

That was slight progress. The convention had been expected to take a tougher stand.

Perhaps some church leaderships, Baptist and others, remember that love is more powerful than hate.