Fury Over Nuke Plant PlanbyEgmontGrigor2011©
* Set in New Zealand that has no nuclear reactors
Guthrie Marks worked alone repairing small boats Monday to Friday, usually from 7:00 till 4:00, and then would go to one of his favorite bars in the prosperous seaside town of Townsend that looked out to Okahu Island and, like everyone else in that locality, he was unaware the island soon would become the center of huge controversy over a proposal to establish a nuclear power plant on the island.
The 21,870-acre island was accessible by foot across a fairly stable sandbank for up to two hours on both sides of low tide.
A two-hourly regular ferry service ran to accommodate those who avoided walking along the half-mile sandbank either because they didn't like risking a race against the incoming tide, or were pregnant mothers, mothers with infants or mothers lugging shopping. Others who always took the ferry included debt collectors, tax inspectors, the infirm, ferry rider fanatics and near-paralytic drunks.
Foreign tourists and people from cities on the mainland within fifty miles of Okahu Island were drawn there because artists and crafts people, many of whom were nationally acclaimed, festooned Artisan's Village and its immediate surrounds around picturesque Gunship Bay. The beach there had been a hauling out area for naval vessels in the age of sail.
Guthrie, known to everyone locally as Gus, owned five of the more up-market houses in that village, inherited from his late maternal grandmother who survived all of her children including Gus's mother who was caught by the tide one night because she was drunk and had misjudged the safe-to-cross timing. Gus, who was eleven at the time and was with his mother, managed to swim to a shallow water warning buoy where four hours after the tragedy he was found clinging to the buoy.
Tourists and holidaymakers from the region stayed at Gus's houses paying big rentals, making him quite wealthy but he considered at thirty-six he was too young to retire and kept on with his boat repair business, purchased from his father. This part of the coast was rocky with many reefs and submerged hazards and, as a consequence, boating mishaps were quite frequent. Local people requiring boat repairs or refits kept Gus's order book full because was first-choice repairer, being a master craftsman.
Gus would return from the bar of that afternoon's choice around 6:00 each evening to his home over the boatshed practically on Sandy Beach, the only premises permitted that close to the sea. That privilege was secured because his boat-building grandfather had secured inalienable title to that piece of land through proven long-standing occupancy of family succession in the 1950s when extensive reforms were introduced throughout the country to control land use and provide tighter protection of natural resources.
Usually when Gus arrived home his dinner would be almost ready, prepared by a kindly widow, wife or a comely single woman whenever Gus's schoolteacher girlfriend was unavailable. In most instances, once Gus had eaten, the cook would enjoy robust sex with him, usually up to two hours if she had the stamina and inclination and a good excuse to explain her flushed cheeks and lateness home if she were answerable to a partner or father/mother.
It was a beautiful arrangement for Gus because he had no inclination to pay for sex. What the women got out of it he wasn't sure but most of them kept on the roster managed by his girlfriend Kitty. Gus and Kitty were both very popular residents in Townsend and people in the town and on the island enjoyed seeing the attractive couple together. None of them including Gus knew that Kitty (31) intended to marry Gus as soon as he got her pregnant.
It appeared to be a life of bliss for the people of the town and island, although it's well known that people enjoying the best of life often foul up or have it fouled up for them.
Totally unexpected came a bombshell, the Government announcing Okahu Island had been chosen as proposed site for a nuclear power plant and a site exploratory team would arrive on the island shortly to being test drillings on behalf of the Government's electricity authority.
Local people were horrified on the day of that shock announcement. Many people failed to show up for work, calling in that they were sick, as they probably were... sick to the stomach.
The first spontaneous neighborhood meetings began forming within minutes of the news breaking
Angry citizens calling Townsend Talkback Radio ranted on the airwaves, being bleeped numerous times for bad language but were allowed to make defamatory remarks against the Government because the station manager deemed it was impossible to libel a Government.
Kitty called Gus and wept, "Oh darling this is terrible for our baby."
Caught by surprised Gus said, "What baby?"
"Um did I say baby?"
"You did. Are you pregnant?"
"No," she sobbed. "I was thinking the nuclear pollution would be really damaging to babies. What are you going to do about it darling?"
"Declare war on the bastards who invade our island."
"Oh bugger. Forget I ever said that darling."
He said promise him she'd never repeat what he'd just said and she promised 'hand on heart'.
"I should be touching that breast."
"What, oh god Gus how could you be thinking sex at a time like this?"
Gus wondered was there really a time not to think of sex?
"Listen very carefully baby, my strategy will be to take a passive role and argue it's only an investigation and the drillers will probably find the composition of island ground is too unstable to take the weight of a nuclear power station."
"But if you take a passive stand you would be harshly criticized."
"Oh in that case I just better shrug and say I want nothing to do with it."
"You'll be called a coward."
Gus said provided people still came to him to repair their boats and paid their accounts by due date he could live with being called a coward.
"Will you let your houses on the island to the investigating team?"
"Gee I could hike up prices."
"Um no, no way could they occupy my houses. Let the bastards haul across RVs, caravans and tents to the island."
"Good boy. I was about to warn you I could withhold sex."
"Oh that would have been an enormous loss."
Kitty released her cute giggle he found so adorable. "Oh darling. You can say just the sweetest things to me. I trust you will avoid coming to harm if you indulge in your know what?"
"What having sex with you?"
"No you fool. If you indulge in what I'm forbidden to talk about."
"Oh that. Everything will be Jake. I'll count on you to be courageous and keep your mouth shut if things begin looking dicey for me."
"I will. You know I'm not a wimp otherwise you would have had nothing to do with me."
"Agreed," said Gus. "Now listen carefully. From now on be aware of anyone coming snooping. If I'm away say I'm touring the country studying boat-repair trends and then probably will visit France, Japan and Norway."
"That would explain my absence darling. You wouldn't like me being accused of civil disobedience on the island would you? I'd need sex before I disappeared so you will know by the depth of my interest and affection that I'm about to go away."
"Oooh, when will that be? The bell is going, I better go. Our school principal is hunched over his laptop looking up how to defend populations against nuclear radiation leaks."
"Tell him he could be retired before any plant goes operational."
"Is that the truth?"
"Yes honey that island is honeycombed with caves and fissures. I can't see them building a power station on it and then running the giant electricity transmission pylons over the sandbank."
"Omigod that would be desecrating our walkway making people too scared to walk under those huge power lines."
"Yeah the developers could use huge under-sea cables but the cost of that would frighten the Government because it's Energy Commission will be footing the bills through Government guaranteed loans. Don't tell anyone about what I've just said because having these guys here on their misguided investigation will boost the economies of the town and the island."
"Oh yes, good thinking. Bye darling. Mae Partridge is cooking your dinner tonight because I have a school committee meeting. Mae is the big screamer, remember?"
"Yeah and damn, that's not the only thing big about Mae."
Kitty giggled and cut the call.
* * *
Gus went to the back of the boatshed and moved odd lengths of surplus planks and unlocked the heavy steel cover set into the concrete floor and gently lifted out the WW2 sniper's rifle in its carry bag an old guy had given his dad in the 1960s and put that on the bench. Gus' father Cliff and his 39-year old second wife now lived in Florida.
There was a good supply of ammo for the gun and it wasn't registered so any forensic work on recovered bullets could not be traced back to the weapon's owner. His father had not intended being that deceitful; he just liked to have a couple of guns handy and didn't believe it was the police's business to know what weapons he possessed and to have to pay fees for the privilege of the police to hold and update that information.
Gus spent most of the morning doing regular maintenance on the rifle and checking it out thoroughly. Instead of going to a bar that afternoon he went around to the west side of the island on his 10 ft 6 in inflatable boat with a rigid aluminum hull and powered by a 15 hp Honda motor, very similar to many such boats running about in the area. On this occasion he wished to remain inconspicuous and dressed as a fisherman complete with sunhat and dirty clothes and drank beer as he cruised.
Nearing the western side of the uninhabited Government-owned northern area of the island that was used for grazing stock and horse-riding, Gus went very close inshore to be hidden from any nature walkers observing sea life from the towering cliffs and went into what he knew as Sea Cave 34. As a boy Gus had explored many of the island's sea caves, but not all of them, because he estimated there were at least 150 of them. He used to camp in this cave when young and first had sex in this very cave, with Maggie Westwood who now was a divorcee with three kids. Maggie worked as a successful potter working from home in the Artisan's Village she shared with a sexy female artist who also had totally lost interest in males.
Gus found a crevice to his liking, stowed the rifle, night binoculars used for night fishing to spot water disturbances of schooling fish, a spare pair of boots and a jacket and candy bars he'd placed in a tin. He then covered over the stockpile with a piece of cloth of similar color to the eroding sandstone. Gus checked the cache, approaching from different angles, and was satisfied it would escape detection unless the searcher was the ultimate sleuth using a metal detector.
Well he was ready; bring it on.
After Gus had his dinner above the boat repair workshop and the cook had cleared away and washed the dishes and put everything away, she happily lay under Gus, getting the only reward she wanted.
"Oooh you feel fat tonight Gus," she cooed. "What's excited you?"
"Your beautiful meal and my desire to exhibit full appreciation," Gus said, avoiding the real truth and saying his excitement was due to his self-appointed upcoming mission of harassing the nuclear power plant proposed site investigation. "Yes it's true I can feel all sides of you this evening Mrs Partridge, or rather Mae. It's such a delight."
"Omigod, I'm coming I'm coming," she screamed, and dogs up to three miles away began howling to the sound of her high-pitched cries.
* * *
The media came to report on the anger and resentment of the residents of Fairbanks County, particularly the residents of the mainland town of Townsend and the island community of Artisan's Village.
Mr Guthrie Marks, who was reported as owning the five best dwellings in the village overlooking the magnificent Gunship Bay, was interviewed against that fantastic backdrop when filmed for one of the interviews for the 'Hot Topic Tonight' to be screened that evening on TV1. He said laconically that he didn't understand what the fuss was about.
"These mega projects come and go. Local resistance will be such that the stupid [bleep] who callously dreamed up our island as a lovely little site for their power generation monstrosity will be eventually told by their political masters to go somewhere and build it on an abandoned refuse dump. This is pristine coast that we have to protect for our children and their children and other generations in the far out future. If the Government is worried about future power generation capacity then they should be spending it on financing research into more efficient and longer-lasting candles and home heating and cooking systems that operate efficiently on the smell of an oily rag."
Mrs Annette Wilks, owner-operator of the hamburger bar in Artisan's Village was the only other person to express herself moderately. She said, "I hope that nuclear plant doesn't explode and it will look pretty. Actually I think all the activity associated with this project will be good for business."
All the other people interviewed by the various media turned red-faced and bug-eyed and were scathing in their attack on the Government-initiated madness and corporate money-grubbing demons that had unleashed the nuclear threat on the island and adjacent mainland coastline.
At a public meeting covered by news media, a PR spokesman for the investigating company said to the aggressive audience that was haranguing him, "Total national generation capacity is approaching the stage where we require new generating plants to keep a safe margin between peak consumption and total capacity including allowance for maintenance shutdowns. How else could your demand for electricity remain secure?"
"You fucking idiot, we have all we need now," called a loud-mouth balding guy with a thick beard. "We just flick the switch and oh hello, we have power."
"Oh Christ," said the PR spokesman, slapping his hand against his forehead. "Please would an intelligent person ask the next question?"
A well-dressed woman stood.
"I have a very helpful suggestion. To avoid all this stiff opposition, why don't you build you fucking nuclear power plant next to Parliament Building in Wellington?"
The huge cheer was deafening and the spokesman grabbed his attaché case and fled.
* * *
A month after the aborted public meeting, three guys in suits in white helmets drove off the island-servicing barge and drove straight through Artisan's Village and headed out towards the Government-owned land.
Everyone who was a voluntary member of the Community Alert Corp received an automated message on their cell phone: 'The enemy has arrived'.
People answering their phones tuned in to a designated channel on their short-range radio system and listened as people in the loop reported the progress of the black vehicle passed them.
Finally it came to rest near the saltwater lagoons.
Felix Joyce radioed, "Ah those lagoons are seen as a source of either water draw off or water discharge or perhaps both in the process of cooling the nuclear reactors. The discharge could of course contain radioactive waste."
Anna Field: "Omigod. Those are breeding grounds for water birds and for centuries have been a temporary resting place for migrating birds twice yearly. I must alert world wildlife protection organizations.
The group commander, Alan Tallboys, cut in, "Agent 001, can you hear me."
"Yeah. I'm in position, the mystery person said."
"Do it 001."
Five minutes later a loud explosion was heard at that end of the island.
Ten minutes later a carload police, the entire force of Townsend on duty at that time, were at the wharf phoning for the barge operator to return urgently to take them on police business.
"I'll be at least thirty minutes," said the operator. "I have part of the motor in pieces doing regular maintenance."
"Row across," yelled the exasperated police sergeant.
"Jack have you every tried to row a 30-ton barge that is 20 ft wide?"
"Get fucked Howie," snared Sergeant Plank.
"I will if you send Constable Claire Wright across. I guess all police officers have to be able to swim."
Apparently the angry sergeant cracked the windscreen of the patrol car, punching it. It was later reported as damage caused by a flying rock.
Later that day, police interviewed all known criminals on the island, seventeen in all but that was only the known criminals. Detectives from the city arrived that afternoon to investigate the crime scene. The smallest piece left of the Jeep Cherokee was the engine. Pieces of the vehicle were scattered over 1200 yards, some raining down on the terrified engineers who were not injured but were indignant at being stranded without a vehicle.
They saw no one acting suspiciously, they told Sergeant Plank. In fact they saw no one since they'd got a half-mile beyond the village.
"Someone will swing for this," thundered Sergeant Plank, who was having severe bruising to his right knuckles dressed by a medic.
Despite extensive inquiries, the culprit or culprits were never located.
The media arrived and had a field day. The best newspaper headline next morning was: Nuke Probe's Vehicle Blasted to Bits.
The chairman of the company hoping to win the construction and commissioning contracts for the new Nuclear Power Plant said on TV that evening, 'Those spoilers on the island have had their day. We will now operate under tight security with heavily armed guards. The guards will shoot back if our people are attacked and if any attackers are accidentally killed, so be it. The Government is sympathetic to our causes and has offered surveillance from the land, sea and air if required."
Kitty pulled Gus' hand off her left breast and stowed the breast.
"Do you know who detonated the bomb?"
"God little wonder the police are getting nowhere with their inquiries with answers like that. Well what about all this extra security? Island resistance will get nowhere now."
"I wouldn't be too sure about that. The company announced to the stock exchange that full investigations of the proposed site would begin on Monday. Charlie will begin work on lengthening his barge on Sunday afternoon and so by Monday morning the bow section will be cut off."
Kitty giggled. "God you guys are like little kids playing in the sandpit. But what happens where security begins firing shots?"
"We abandon physical resistance apart from one guy operating covertly. In difficult terrain like down on the end of the island, one guy could take on fifty infantrymen and hold them at bay through guerilla tactics."
"And who is that guy?"
"I have no idea. Oh I might soon be away on tour for a few weeks darling."
"Gus Marks if you get yourself killed I'll be very cross with you."
"Oh baby, what's the hazard in looking at boat repair work around the country?"
"God you are very bad, a very bad boy. But I accept someone has to try."
"That's the spirit darling. Now let's see about getting you pregnant. That's what you want isn't it? Tell me what to do."
"I haven't thought about it really."
"And what if I call you a very bad liar, a very bad girl liar?"
"I have no idea of what you are talking about. Would you like coffee?"
There was a huge row at the ferry landing on Monday when the mobile drilling rig and five support trucks towing mobile homes and two cars carrying some armed security guys in clearly identifiable uniform arrived around 9:30.
"This operation is costing thousands of dollars a day and you say your barge is out of operation."