International News

It was the worst of days, and then it became one of the best of days. We began an ordinary Sunday except the temp had reached a balmy 14 degrees so I drove to buy my NYTimes instead of walking. I was reading the main news section and sipping coffee at a bit after 11 when this massive concussion rattled the windows and shook the foundation of the house. I waited, and then … nothing. No repeat noise or rumble, no sirens, just silence. I waited a few minutes more and then went back to reading the story on the dreadful conditions that existed at Haiti’s orphanages before the earthquake, which have of course become dire in the aftermath.

Then the phone rang. It was my friend Thelma, breathless. “Do you have friends or family on River Road? The power plant just blew up.” I said, “What? Oh, that’s what that was.” I thought for a second and then said,  “Oh, thank God, no.” She rattled off the numbers the TV stations providing coverage. It was all of them except CBS, which persisted with its pre-pre-pre Super Bowl hype.

Larry had gone to his sister’s house to watch the UConn women play, and I called over there. Deb said she hadn’t heard a thing. She lives less than a mile from us.

Then I turned on the TV and watched for a few minutes. The ABC affiliate interviewed a woman who lived across the river in Portland. She said she had been outside with her dogs when a ball of flame shot skyward, the ground shook, and the windows in her house blew out. I realized that my friend Linda lives not far from there and called her. She said, “I’m fine. Why is everyone calling me?” She hadn’t heard the explosion either even though she was in her apartment. These folks must play their TVs way too loud!

Then I booted up the computer, violating my rule of one computer-free day a week. The story had made the Times. I suddenly realized that it was going national, so I called my cousin Anna in Colorado, hoping to reach her before she saw the news. I was too late because she had turned on the TV before she listened to her phone message. Anyway I reassured her that we were alive and well.

Before she called me back I had turned on the BBC news hour. We were the off-lede story, following the election in Ukraine. “There’s been an explosion at a power plant in the American state of Connecticut.”

Of course at this point the amount of actual information was minimal – two dead, hundreds wounded. Today it had turned to five dead and a dozen wounded. We had moved off the left rail on the Times site to the “NY and Region” section. New crises had intervened.

Larry came home, said he thought his good buddy Sal worked there. I said I had no idea because he moved around so much. Last I knew he was in Waterbury. Plus I didn’t think he worked on the weekends. Anyway, Larry tried to call – I think on his home and cell phones. No answer. He tried on and off before we went to our Super Bowl party but said hopefully that Sal was probably off celebrating the Big Game somewhere. No message from him when we got home, and I could tell Larry was really worried.

Once we got to the party, we had first-hand information, most of it from the deputy majority leader of the city council Ron Klattenberg, who had attended the press conference. He wound up being quoted in the Times of London saying that walls at the plant that were supposed to stand up to tornadoes had been blown away. The Wall Street Journal quoted him saying that he was in a boat shed four miles from the blast and thought something had fallen on the shed or that the area was experiencing an earthquake.

Another person at the party had been to the hospital and said news reports of what was happening at the plant just before the explosion were inaccurate, that there had been welding torches lit while the gas was still flowing.

Sal finally called this morning. He does (or did) work at the place, and he had been at work on Saturday when there were two or three hundred people on the premises, far more than the fifty who went in on Sunday. He also said that we were all really, really fortunate because the original plan had been to store spent fuel rods from the nuclear plant down the river beneath the new structure and build on top of it. If they had followed that plan, I would not be writing this and the entire city would probably be one molten ball of radioactive waste.

A couple of editorial notes: I can’t believe the cynical name Kleen Energy. The place was developed mostly by a man who served time in federal prison after he admitted lying to the FBI about price fixing in the trash hauling industry. Phil Armetta at one time owned Dainty Rubbish. Don’t you just love the name? He’s had a couple of other none too savory partners over the years. Can’t wait to see what turns up in the many investigations that will ensue. The movie China Syndrome comes to mind.

So much for the worst part of Sunday. The best was of course watching my Saints achieve the dream. I only had to pull out the “Who Dat?” bag in the first half. After that I was thrilled except at the women-hating hypocritical ads. All in all, we had an evening that removed most of the sting of the day.


One Response to “International News”

  1. Redux, Redux IV, Chapter 1 « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] Kleen Energy explosion (“Curiouser and Curiouser” and “International News”) has produced its first lawsuit — $6 million by a guy who suffered severe injuries and […]

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