A large countdown clock was unveiled today in front of the Lahaina Thorcon plant. While the year-long timer clicks down to one event, a retrofit to start using element 127 (Unbiseptium) for power production, the implications mean very different things for many Lahaina residents. For some, the modification would be a source of pride, making the island the home of the most cutting edge power plant in the world. The upgrade would provide cheaper, and more efficient energy production. Others see the conversion as unnecessary and potentially dangerous. They contend that the company is risking irreparable harm to the surrounding area simply to improve their bottom line.
Constructing a nuclear power plant in this part of Maui was never an easy sell. Many were concerned that the proposed location was too close to Lahaina and that the potential harm to some of the world’s most pristine forests was not worth the risk. But the project received heavy support from Veilcorp and government officials. A push was made to educate the public of the inherent and passive safety features intrinsic to the Thorcon design. Assured of the plant’s safety, eager for cheaper energy, and keen on having a major Veilcorp hub, public sentiment finally tipped in favor of the plant. It began operations on August 3, 2029.
Now less than five years later, the proposed design changes have many worried. Tim Durney, a former investigator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the plan to switch over to 127 would be a disaster. He says that the Thorcon plants safety features won’t apply if the switch is made to Unbiseptium and calls the installation of the clock something out of a bad scifi movie.
“The locals are calling it the ‘Doomsday clock’ and that’s exactly what it will become if their plans are carried out. I’ve seen the glow that 127 exposure gives everything. People, plants, even some metals, if something bad happened in this facility you’d be able to see Lahiana glowing a light blue at night from space. I was one of the investigators of the Veilcorp 127 breach in 2023. Even though that was considered a small containment failure, the released 127 destroyed acres of Iowa farmland that is still unusable. The explosions had some serious long lasting effects on survivors. We’re talking about horrible growths, deformities, and central nervous system disorders. They don’t even have names for some of the medical issues that people who inhaled 127 are suffering from. I know people who lived on the very edge of the contaminated areas who’ve suffered permanent vision impairments. Imagine always seeing sparkling light even when you close your eyes. We’ve seen huge increases in liver and bone diseases, as well as increases in cervical and testicular cancers in people from the surrounding area. To say that this element is not excessively dangerous is an outright lie.”
Thorcon’s Resident Site Manager Davis Carnot says that nothing could be further from the truth. He says the company has worked closely with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and have been consulting with Veilcorp scientists who have a deep understanding and experience working with 127. He says that the plant conversions will actually make it safer.
“I’ll admit that the messaging behind the clock rollout could have been handled better and we’re discussing moving it inside. Clock issues aside, and with all due respect to Mr. Durney, he is absolutely, 100% incorrect about the increased dangers of 127. The incident in Iowa has nothing at all to do with the technology we plan on using here. The plant will still use a liquid fuel design eliminating the need for fuel rods. In addition, 127 reacts at an extremely low temperature. In fact we’ve been able to achieve near-room-temperature superconductivity in a 127 doped palladium hydride. In layman’s terms, that means we can achieve extraordinary energy production efficiency in a way that is actually safer than our old design. Once you combine the benefits of using 127 with the added guidelines included in the preservation zone expansion, you have yourself the plans for the safest nuclear power plant ever conceived.”
Carnot says that the company understands that people are worried and will work hard to ease their fears. Just as they did when the plant was first proposed, he says the company will spend the next year holding numerous town hall style meetings where residents can learn about the science behind the new design, ask questions, and voice their concerns about the plant, the clock or anything else.