We’ll never know how close we came to having a nuclear power plant just outside Duluth along the North Shore near Knife River, but rest assured it was once proposed.
I clearly recall the day at the old Duluth (evening) Herald, where I was working in the 1960s, when we were informed that a nuclear power plant was being considered at that location because the cold waters of Lake Superior would be perfect for cooling a nuclear reactor.
We’re hearing a lot now about the possible melt downs in Japan partly because the earthquake and tsunami have knocked out the ability to pump cooling water from the sea into the reactors.
But, in those days long before the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl catastrophes, and a bit before the environmental movement got up and running, Lake Superior seemed an ideal source of cold water for such a facility.
Somewhere in the archives of the Duluth newspaper, most likely in the microfilm record of all Duluth papers, the newspaper with this momentous announcement – with a banner headline extending across the entire top of the front page – lies the record of this short-lived proposal.
At the time, I had the impression that everyone was jubilant. It would mean jobs. It’s always jobs. After all, that’s why they carved up the shore of Lake Superior at Silver Bay a decade earlier for a taconite plant, and then dumped waste from the plant into the lake for a generation.
I believe Minnesota Power and Light (they later dropped the “and Light”) was involved and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Hubert Humphrey was prominent in making the announcement. This is all based on nearly 50 years of recollection, but it happened.