On April 30, 1977, I entered the construction site for the Seabrook (New Hampshire) nuclear power plant. The next day, I was one of 1414 people arrested at the site, while arch-conservative Governor Meldrim Thompson, dressed in combat fatigues, gave orders to the police. Under Thompson’s administration, many protestors were held until May 13.While we were in captivity, William Loeb, publisher of the state’s largest newspaper, repeatedy called us “terrorists.”
Fast-forward 35 years. Today, April 14, 2012, I was one of 1500 or 2000 people attending a rally in Brattleboro, Vermont to shut down the deeply troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear plant—which, under Vermont law and agreements signed by the plant owner, should have been shut down and has been operating illegally since its license expired. Ironically, the plant sits on the Connecticut River, which is the border between Vermont and New Hampshire.
Only this time, the governor, and most of the state, was on our side. Governor Peter Shumlin was the featured speaker, and he outlined ten specific lies or broken promises on the part of New Orleans-based Entergy, which owns the plant.
Along with Governor Shumlin, US Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, and several state legislators from both Vermont and neighboring Masachusetts were on the program or sent greetings. Vermont’s lone US House Representative, Peter Welch, sent greetings, leaving only Senator Patrick Leahy out of the event among Vermont’s three-member Congressional delegation.
Yes, we’ve won over at least one state government. But our work is not done until this very dangerous plant—a plant that was unsafe even when it was new, and which uses the same totally discredited GE Mark I design as Fukushima-Daiichi—is shut down. Until Entergy honors its promises. And until all nuclear plants in the US and around the world are shut down before catastrophe happens.