A risky procedure is planned for this spring at a nuclear waste dump in Vermont that's three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. If the operation goes wrong, thousands of people could be killed. A group based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, near Greenfield, will probably organize a march to call for children at the elementary school directly across the street from the dump to be taken further away during the procedure, which involves moving hundreds of tons of nuclear waste from a water-filled pool seven stories above ground into so-called “dry casks” at ground level. Another goal of the march would be to get the government to come up with a realistic plan to notify people in case of an accident, and to evacuate school children, people at nursing homes, and others who don't have a car. The group is called Citizens Awareness Network (CAN). It has a web site at www.NukeBusters.org.
The nuclear waste dump was formerly known as the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The reactor was closed in 2014, thanks to thousands of people who attended marches and rallies, and hundreds who were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.
CAN helped organize a protest against Vermont Yankee in Brattleboro in 2012 that drew 1,500 people, 137 of whom were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. A CAN worker recently contacted the newly elected Vermont Attorney General, and the relevant employees of the newly elected Vermont governor, about these issues.
Nuclear waste is the most deadly material on earth. The waste is so dangerous that it must be guarded 24 hours a day for the next 1 million years, according to the federal government. The prevailing wind is from the west, which would blow radioactivity toward Keene.
A serious accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City would kill 50,000 people and result in 100,000 “radiation injuries” and $300 billion in property damage. That’s according to “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences (CRAC 2),” a study prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Congress. It was cited by Elizabeth Kolbert in her article “Indian Point Blank,” which was published in The New Yorker magazine on March 3, 2003. The same study says a major accident at Vermont Yankee would cause 7,000 "prompt fatalities." There is at least 10 times more nuclear waste at the Vermont Yankee site now than when the study was released.
On May 2, 1977, police arrested 1,414 protesters at the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. In June 1978, some 12,000 people attended a protest at Seabrook. In August 1978, almost 500 people were arrested for protesting at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. In May 1979, in Washington, D.C., about 70,000 people, including the governor of California, attended a march and rally against nuclear power. On June 2, 1979, about 500 people were arrested for protesting construction of the Black Fox nuclear power plant in Oklahoma. The next day, 15,000 people attended a rally at the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island; about 600 were arrested. On June 30, 1979, about 38,000 people attended a protest rally at Diablo Canyon. On Aug. 23, 1979, in New York City, about 200,000 people attended a rally against nuclear power. On Sept. 23, 1979, about 167 protesters were arrested at Vermont Yankee. On June 22, 1980, about 15,000 people attended a protest near the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California.
Protests preceded the permanent shutdown of Shoreham, Yankee Atomic, Millstone I, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee and at least a dozen other nuclear power plants.
When he was president, Richard Nixon said the nation’s goal was to have 1,000 nuclear power plants by the year 2000. There were about 100 in the year 2000. There are now 99 nuclear power reactors operating in the USA, down from 104 a decade ago.
An article in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of American History did not hesitate to give protesters credit for the decline of the nuclear power industry: "The protesters lost their battle [when Diablo Canyon opened in 1984], but in a sense they won the larger war, for nuclear plant construction ended across the country in 1986."
There are four nuclear power reactors now under construction in the USA, Paul Gunter of the group Beyond Nuclear told the Valley Post last month. Two are in South Carolina and two are in Georgia. Gunter said they may never open due to financial challenges. The most recently opened nuclear power plant in the USA took 43 years to build.
Bob Mulholland ran a successful campaign to close the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant near Sacramento, California. Rancho Seco was closed in 1989 because the people of Sacramento voted to close it. Mulholland told the Valley Post that the nuclear industry dramatically outspent the anti-nuclear groups in advertising before the referendum vote. "David can beat Goliath," he said. "We had a New England Town Meeting-style community debate and people saw that the industry was lying. Closing Rancho Seco was the best thing our community ever did."
Photos from the movement that closed Vermont Yankee, and sources for the facts in this article, are at: