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News briefs 8.13.03 

Growing up a golfer

As a member of the Calhoun (Long Island) High Golf Team, I was a pariah of the jock-ular caste system. No cheerleader worth her pom-poms would have ever even considered dating me. It would have been an athletic faux pas of the highest order, almost as bad as saying "No" to the captain of the football team.

            Thirty years later and who's laughing now? Golf has risen to the very height of recreational fashion. Everyone's doing it: kids, teens, adults, retirees, actors, sports celebrities, sports has-beens, sports wannabees. With over 4,000 courses nationwide and $60 billion in annual earnings, golf is huge business. For this we have largely to thank one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, the most charismatic man to swing a driver since Arnold Palmer bounded onto the links some 50 years ago.

            The PGA Championship is in town this week at the very lush, and very private, Oak Hill Country Club. One of the four major tournaments of the professional men's golf year, the PGA attracts the rock stars of the golf world: Tiger, Monty, Furyk, Garcia, Els, Mickelson. They'll all be there, along with a battalion of swing doctors, sports shrinks, press, and TV personnel. And, of course, the general public. Even on Monday, the first pre-tournament practice day, the course was teeming with fans. I was right there with them, craning for close-ups of the polo-shirted celebrities whose faces I've come to know so well from my daily visits to the Golf Channel.

            Is the world a better place for golf? Well, of course it is. Golf is a study in slowing down and turning inward. It is the anti-football, the anti-reality show, the anti-MTV. It is the patron sport of all gentlemen and gentlewomen, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, age, body shape, or level of personal fitness. It is, quite simply, the sport to which all other sports aspire. If only those cheerleaders knew what they were missing.

--- Rick Scott

Ginna the undead

The biggest energy issue to hit Rochester in years has made a small dent in the news lately.

            It all began in July 2002, when Rochester Gas and Electric (Energy East) filed a license-renewal application for the Ginna nuclear plant, located 20 miles east of Rochester. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now processing the application, which would allow Ginna to operate until September 2029. If RG&E is turned down --- quite unlikely, since the NRC has so far said yes to every similar application --- the plant would effectively go out of business in 2009.

            By its standard operating procedure, the NRC recently held public input meetings in Ginna's "host community," the Wayne County town of Ontario, rather than in Rochester, the largest population center that could be harmed by a nuclear accident. (And fear of an accident isn't unfounded: In 1982, an "incident" at Ginna released some radioactivity to the environment and stoked a minor panic. RG&E, though, has always maintained that the release posed no threat, and that the plant has a fine safety record. And recent NRC "performance indicators" for the plant have been coded green --- basically meaning OK.)

            A recent RG&E filing with the federal SEC says a decision on the license renewal is expected by June 30, 2004. The notice also says the "renewal application was unopposed." That may be true in narrow legal terms. But in fact, many people would like the plant shut down in 2009, if not before.

            One of these critics is Wolcott resident Susan Peterson Gateley, who used to live even closer to the plant. Gateley attended the recent public meetings; she sums up the feelings of the few members of the public who attended. "The citizens are figuring out this is basically a rubber-stamp process," she says. The application documents, she says, are "narrowly focused" and "designed to comply with the letter of the law."

            Gateley's also concerned that "cumulative issues" are not being addressed. What issues are these? Gateley notes that there are now 16 nuclear reactors on the Lake Ontario shoreline: Twelve reactors in two plant complexes serve the Toronto area; the other reactors are on this side of the lake, in Wayne and Oswego counties.

            Whether or not the rubber-stamp is poised, the public comment period on the Ginna relicensing will be open till at least September 16. (After that date, says an NRC document, submissions may or may not get consideration.) Relevant filings can be found on the web via the NRC "Reading Room," The documents also are available at the Ontario Public Library, 1850 Ridge Road; and at the Rochester Central Library, 115 South Avenue. Written comments may be sent to: Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop T-6D 59, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001. You can also e-mail your comments to the NRC at

Speaking of PGA Championship, Ginna Nuclear Plant

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