My name is Brett Smith and I am an Operations Instructor at James A FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant. I grew up in upstate NY, originally in the Finger Lakes region. My parents were farmers turned small business owners. When times became tough my parents sold their business and my father got a job as a security guard at FitzPatrick and moved the family to Oswego. This was 13 years ago. I attended Cayuga Community College and then enlisted in the US Navy out of Oswego. The Navy gave me an unbelievable experience and an education in nuclear power plant operation and maintenance; I gained a passion for nuclear power. In the Navy I met and married my wife and started my family -we have two amazing young girls. For 9 years we lived in the south from Virginia down to Florida, always on the Ocean. In the Navy I saw a lot of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. When I got the opportunity to return to CNY I jumped and brought my family to a place they had never been. I was lucky to get a job back in nuclear power at FitzPatrick, now teaching others how to operate and hopefully instilling the same passion for nuclear power that the Navy gave me.
I support the local community. My family goes out of our way to shop at local small businesses. We travel daily to Pulaski, Mexico, New Haven, Central Square, Fulton, Phoenix and Oswego to get our goods. Sometimes it may be cheaper and easier to shop online or at large corporations but we know the hardships of being a small business and we want to make sure our communities stay strong and vibrant.
We attend the community events from all the farmers markets to Maple Weekend, Fall Fest, Pumpkin Fest, Porch Fest, Harbor Fest, and of course the Great New York State Fair. We donate to every child that comes asking, we support the schools, the athletics, the arts, the charities, the clubs, and the organizations. I am just one of 600 highly trained and skilled workers that are employed by FitzPatrick. The other 599 families all support their local communities as much as my family does throughout Oswego, Oneida, and Onondaga counties. FitzPatrick regularly supports local charities like United Way, the Rescue Mission, and the Food Pantries, as well our Adopt-A-School program where FitzPatrick donated $500 each to 22 different Oswego County schools last year and each department added additional fund raising for those schools to give to families in need in their district around the Holidays. Through payroll and charitable organizations, FitzPatrick contributes more that $74 million every year to the local economy. FitzPatrick paid $12.3 million in school property taxes in 2012 to the Mexico district which accounted for 51% of the school district’s total tax levy. In the state, nuclear power employs 3,440 workers. Additionally thousands of jobs are provided to contractors and service workers during outages at each site. More than $463 million of materials, services and fuel for the nuclear energy industry are purchased annually from more than 1,600 New York companies.
FitzPatrick supports the Country’s veterans. A large majority of the people I work with each day have a similar military background as me. The Navy helped pave the way for nuclear power and create operators, radiation specialists, chemists, and maintenance technicians to protect and defend our Country. Nuclear power plants welcome these veterans returning to the civilian world with open arms. When a job opened alongside mine I quickly asked my supervisor to consider one of my shipmates for the position. I explained how I trusted my life every day at sea in his hands as he also did with me and that that same dedication would be applied to his job here. They didn’t pass up the opportunity to support another veteran and I am proud to again be serving alongside my shipmate every day at FitzPatrick.
FitzPatrick employs families. I run into my father at work. My aunt and uncle both retired from FitzPatrick and their daughter and son-in-law work here now. My family has been in training, security, operations, maintenance, and administration here. There is currently a third generation FitzPatrick employee on site. FitzPatrick provides a sustaining, lasting impact to the families of our community.
The six Nuclear power facilities in New York account for 33% of the state’s electricity production. Nuclear power is a near zero greenhouse gas emission power source. Nuclear power has less Life-Cycle CO2 emissions than, coal, natural gas, biomass, solar PV, and Hydroelectric. Nuclear energy in New York accounts for 61% of the emission-free electricity. Nuclear power in New York prevents 22 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year, the equivalent of 4 million passenger cars on the road.
Nuclear power is reliable, it does not depend on the flow of water, shining of the sun, or blowing of the wind. Nuclear power plants provide “always on” electricity. FitzPatrick has been producing electricity continuously, safely, and reliably for 351 days since the end of its last refueling outage. Over the last 7 years FitzPatrick has produced 90% of its full potential power around the clock. This ensures no matter what the situation is the power will be there for nearly 800,000 residential homes.
FitzPatrick is committed to safety. Its employees regularly train and practice emergency response to be ready for any scenario. FitzPatrick safely and securely stores its used fuel on site.
“America’s 99 nuclear energy facilities are among the safest and most secure industrial facilities. Multiple automatic safety systems, the industry’s commitment to comprehensive safety procedures and stringent federal regulation keep nuclear energy facilities and neighboring communities safe. After more than a half-century of commercial nuclear energy production in the United States—more than 3,900 reactor years of operation—there have been no radiation related health effects linked to the operation of nuclear energy facilities. Numerous studies, including those from the National Cancer Institute and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, show that U.S. nuclear power plants effectively protect the public’s health and safety.”
I am proud of my job, I am proud of my state, and I am proud of my family. I dream of a life in which my children and their children grow up in the wonders of Upstate NY. Of all the places I have been in the world there is no other place I would rather raise my family. From Niagara to NYC, St. Lawrence to the Finger Lakes; New York has so much to offer in both natural beauty and its inhabitants. I hope for a future where we have done everything we can to protect the environment and the economy of New York for the future generations. Ensuring that FitzPatrick and the other nuclear power plants in the state maintain running are keys to achieving those goals. The closure of any of our nuclear plants will have an immediate negative impact on our environment, our people, our businesses, and our communities.
Please stand with us, show your support, and help #SaveFitzPatrick.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.