Saturday, July 17, 2010

INL Has A Firebug?

I want to reiterate here that I have a rock-solid alibi for when the Jefferson Fire started at the Idaho National Laboratory.

I say that in jest, because on the day of that fire, I had one person call and one person e-mail, asking if I started it. They wanted to tease, of course. I did not start it, I told them.

Evidently, however, somebody did. Whether it's arson or an accident, apparently nobody's telling.

(Photo here is taken from my back porch on the first day of the fire, looking west. The plume of smoke pretty much took in the entire sky except for a narrow slice to the south, where ordinary daylight could still come in. It came in blue, however, as you can see in the photo below.)

You can see the blue light reflected most clearly on the leaves of the tree in the left portion of the photo. There are more photos in my Facebook photo album.

But back to the cause. Nobody's telling whether it's arson or accident. I hope it's the latter. I don't like the thought of an arsonist having access to a nuclear reservation -- and it's quite possible that those opposed to nuclear power could use this kind of event as another bludgeon against new plants. What they (and the arsonists) don't realize is that part of the standard fire protection plan at any kind of nuclear facility to to have a vegetation-free zone around the plant to prevent fires like this from causing trouble. They may burn down power poles, but they will not otherwise affect the plant in any way.

Additionally, I've got to feel some pity for the folks over at the Materials and Fuels Complex Emergency Response Organization. They had to have had a hell of a time this week, going through the paces of keeping the rest of us abreast on what was happening out there. I'm a notification specialist on the RWMC ERO, and even in drill situations it's not a fun job to do -- and it's all volunteer; nobody gets any extra money for all that work. And it is work, tedious, tension-mounting work. I hope they find more than just a one-pound bonus in their pay buckets this week. Though we all had to do some additional ERO training this week, so maybe it wasn't all roses over there. The training can hardly be coincidental with the fire; that's just a bit too pat for me.

Anyway, here's to hoping that the accident, if that's the cause, is cleared up, and, if there's an arsonist, that he or she is nabbed before another fire goes off.

Then there's the other thing I probably shouldn't mention until I do a little homework. Maybe early next week.

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