Is the newly built power plant radioactive?


DANGEROUS ELEMENTS CAUSE CANCER — The new power plant may be linked to the dying squirrels and runaway dogs threatening Holland citizens. (P21 Decision)

By Eleven

Thanks to the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW), the new Holland Energy Park Power Plant has been completed with state-of-the-art equipment that surpasses citizen expectations of sustainability and style. However, a recent inspection by Region 5 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed a rather high level of Technology Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) as well as increasing levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM). Although officials say the increasing levels are facile and to be ignored, many Hollanders are complaining of strange animal and plant activity.

Officer Jim Hopper broke his motto of “mornings are for coffee and contemplation” to sit down for a quick interview. He said that upwards of 10 reports have been made by civilians concerning three or more dead squirrels in yards as well an increased number of runaway dogs. Hopper explains that although his knowledge is limited, his gut tells him the new power plant may have more negative effects than the HBPW had anticipated.

According to Power Technology, a news site that covers the global energy industry, the park is a gas-fired, combined-cycle natural gas plant.

Typically, sites similar to the Holland Energy Park have baseline tests before any energy can be produced that carefully analyze the levels of TENORM and NORM that can be produced.

Although the site passed the initial inspection with flying colors, this new inspection should raise red flags.

According to Mr. Stephen Clarke, a scientist and teacher at Holland Hawkins middle school, the fact that the NORM levels are growing should be a concern to everyone involved in the project. He went on to explain that this increase means an earthly internal error is occurring that cannot be detected by the EPA tests or the public eye. He ended the interview by saying, “Science is neat…but I’m afraid it’s not very forgiving.”

Increased levels of NORM are linked to high levels of radium 226, 228 and radon 222.

These elements are referred to as “bone seekers,” due to their tendency to migrate to the bone tissue of living beings and concentrate causing bone cancers and other bone abnormalities. Could these elements be the cause of the dying squirrels? Clarke begged the question, “if these unknown and dangerous elements are causing harm within our environment, what does this mean for the citizens of Holland?”

Authority members have been shoving the tests aside, reassuring the public that the new power plant is the best of its kind and plays no threat to the environment or community. The recent test results flew past Region 5’s authority and were directly reported to the EPA’s Inspector General, Arthur A. Elkins Jr.

In response, Elkins released a statement saying that the increasing levels have been tested, passed inspection and are simply a result of leftover waste in Lake Macatawa.

Dr. Martin Brenner of Holland Hawkins Laboratory, a facility funded by both the U.S. Department of Energy and EPA, has also been a recurring figure in all areas of the project.

His direct relationship is unknown. But, the $240 million project has supposedly been paid for in bonds. However, at the power plant’s debut event, David Koster, the general manager of the HBPW, continually thanked Dr. Brenner for his “external donation” to the project as a whole.

The dots to this puzzle continue to reveal themselves but will citizens like Mr. Clarke be able to connect them?

*This is part of The Ranchor issue of The Anchor, which is a satire edition of our student newspaper. None of this article is meant to be taken as fact.*

Sophia Vander Kooy ('20) is a political science and international studies major with an unofficial passion for taking creative writing classes. She was the Production Manager at the Anchor during the spring semester of 2020, and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief. She is also a member of the Women's Track and Cross Country teams at Hope, the STEP Community Outreach Student Director and the Co-President of Hope Yoga. Sophia loves writing, being outside, cooking, running and connecting with all kinds of people. She has found the space to be herself at The Anchor and knows that she is not alone in that.

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