GIL-SCOTT HERON, WE ALMOST LOST DETROIT
The Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Erie near Monroe, in Frenchtown Charter Township, Monroe County, Michigan, USA, approximately halfway between Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. On October 5, 1966 Fermi 1 suffered a partial fuel meltdown. There was no abnormal radiation release to the public, and no one was injured. At the time of the accident, two fuel rod subassemblies reached high temperatures of around 700°F (with an expected range near 580°F), causing an alarm and the potential for evacuation. Fabled 70’s era singer/poet Gil Scott-Heron sang in his popular song “We Almost Lost Detroit”, about the 1966 partial meltdown. He proclaimed that when it comes to public safety “money wins out every time…” Referencing the inherent dangers for massive devastation in nuke plants Scott-Heron remarked that “Odds are, we gonna loose somewhere sometime.” In 2010, a report released a day after the nuclear disaster in Japan by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on the performance of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—the government agency that enforces safety regulations for U.S. nuclear reactors–ends with this observation, echoing Scott-Heron’s sentiments: “That plant operators could have avoided all 14 near-misses in 2010 had they corrected known deficiencies in a timely manner, suggests that our luck at nuclear roulette may someday run out.”
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Gil Scott-Heron, “We Almost Lost Detroit: