Those who have not attended the minimally publicized meetings regarding the administration’s plans to build a new natural gas power plant on campus—it is time you paid attention.
After the Snowpocalyspe of last October, President Roth mandated that the University strive to reduce the risk of losing schooldays in the event of a similar weather emergency in the future. Some administrators and Physical Plant staff developed a plan to construct a natural gas co-generation power plant near Freeman Athletic Center to supplement a similar plant that Wesleyan built in 2008 on the corner of Williams and High Streets. This new plant, they claim, is necessary to allow us to go into “island mode” and avoid a blackout during the increasingly common extreme weather events. For a combination of logistical, budgetary, and moral reasons, I argue otherwise.
First, some background. The plan was set on trajectory behind closed doors, without input of the community or students, until Evan Weber ’13 gleaned through a comment made in passing at a sustainability meeting that this was being proposed. In fact, Wesleyan’s new Sustainability Coordinator, Jen Kleindienst, hadn’t heard of it either until about a week before Weber. By the time Weber organized an emergency organizing meeting, Wesleyan had already hired a firm to site and start designing the plant. As Weber told the Argus, “I want to start a conversation about the power plant with all constituents because students, professors, and other members of the community have been largely left out of the discussion.”
So why not have that discussion now?
There are many problems with the proposed plant, which are laid out in a recent Wespeak written by a few concerned students, including Weber and myself. These are what I believe to be some of the most compelling issues at hand:
The explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middletown on Sunday is still in the process of a massive cleanup.
If you’re looking for a way to help, join Wes students in putting together meals for the rescue workers currently dealing with the situation:
The first step to aid people of Middletown affected by the Kleen Energy Power plant explosion on Sunday is to serve hot meals to the rescue workers cleaning up the power plant.
Right now we are waiting on the Mayor’s office to tell us which day will we need to cook food. Our options are Thursday dinner, Friday dinner, Saturday Lunch, and Saturday Dinner. We will not know for which time we are cooking until the day before.
We need to serve about 50-100 rescue workers and need as many chefs as can get. If you would like to cook food please contact kleenenergyresponse(at)gmail.com to get directions on picking up groceries (courtesy of Reslife) for cooking.
Additionally if you are able to donate canned foods of black beans, kidney beans, tomato puree, canned corn, frozen corn, corn meal, flour, corn bread mixes, or flour please leave donations in a box on the porch of 277 Pine Street (right across from where Mamoun’s usually parks). We will need a ton of food and ingredients to cook a meal for 50-100 people, perhaps more than what our funding can fully cover.
Highly recommended background for those (like me) in the “Power plant?!? What power plant??!?” category. Good read includes the FBI, private equity firms, the Attorney General, trash magnate/criminals and Tax Relief/AstroGlide,
There will be a meeting tonight at 10 pm in Usdan to figure out how Wesleyan students can help and support Middletown residents affected by the power plant explosion. Come to figure out plans, logistics and future projects.
Date: Monday, 2/8 (today)
Time: 10 pm
Location: Usdan 108
Middletown Fire Department is reporting a power plant explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant this morning, causing at least five fatalities and a blast felt as far as 15 miles away. All three district fire stations have responded. From the Hartford Courant:
An explosion has occurred at the power plant on River Road in Middletown.
Dozens of ambulances and fire trucks raced to the scene of the explosion, and black smoke was visible for miles, witnesses said.
Details are few at this time, however, police are advising everyone to stay away from the area.
Houses shook as far away as Durham because of the explosion , witnesses said.
CNN: At least 2 dead in Connecticut power plant explosion
MSNBC: ‘Huge’ explosion reported at Conn. power plant
Hartford Courant: At Least 100 Hurt, and “Confirmed Fatalities” After Explosion
Wesleyan All-Campus Email:
Although there were reports that some campus residents felt the explosion, there has been no reported damage in the vicinity of the campus and there is no danger to the campus community. University officials have been in touch with local authorities to offer assistance if Wesleyan resources can be helpful in responding to the incident. There are reports of injuries and perhaps some fatalities at the power plant, and our thoughts are with those in the larger Middletown community who were immediately impacted by this event.
UPDATE- NYTimes: Officials suspended the search for survivors early Monday, fearing for the rescue workers’ safety