Wisconsin Nuke Will Close; Vermont Yankee Fight Continues

The last time that a nuclear power plant was ordered and built in the United States was in 1973. There are now 65 nuclear power plants in the nation. Soon, there will be 64. On October 22, the owner of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton, Wisconsin said it will permanently close the plant next year.

“We have been fighting nuclear power for decades,” Charlie Higley told the Valley Post on October 23. He’s director of the Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin www.wiscub.org in Madison. His group helped pass a ban on new nuclear power plants in the state in 1983. The ban is still in effect.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, the fight to close Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant continues. A key state hearing on the matter will be held in Vernon, Vermont, which borders Massachusetts and New Hampshire, on November 7 at 7 p.m. The hearing before the Vermont Public Service Board will be at the elementary school that’s directly across the street from Vermont Yankee. One group that’s urging the public to attend is www.NukeBusters.org.

The hundreds of tons of nuclear waste at Vermont Yankee is the most toxic 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 electricity from Vermont Yankee is not needed, according to the state of Vermont.

At Vermont Yankee, a major accident or act of sabotage would kill thousands of people and leave an area the size of the Valley uninhabitable. Such a disaster is so likely that no insurance company will insure the facility; taxpayers would pay the costs of a meltdown.

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 much more nuclear waste (aka "spent fuel") at Yankee now then when the study was released.

If a plane hit the so-called “spent fuel pool” (the water-filled nuclear waste storage area) at a nuclear power plant, a catastrophic nuclear emergency could ensue, according to a 2004 report by the National Academies of Science.

Karl Grossman is a journalism professor at the State University of New York. In a March 12, 2011 post on his blog www.karlgrossman.blogspot.com Grossman wrote: "The radioactive releases in the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident affected the entire northern hemisphere, as a book published last year by the New York Academy of Sciences documents. And 'Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,' authored by Dr. Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Vassily Nesterenko, and Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, finds that medical records between 1986, the year of the accident, and 2004 reflect 985,000 deaths as a result of the radioactivity released." Grossman told the Valley Post that a similar number of people will die because of the Fukushima accident last year in Japan.

Following the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979, some 144,000 people who lived near the plant evacuated the area for several days. The accident drew national media coverage. The industry responded with a major television and newspaper advertising campaign. The messages of the campaign were that the industry was learning from its mistake at the Three Mile Island and working to increase safety, that the nation would be worse off without nuclear power, and that experts were hard at work finding solutions to the problem of nuclear waste disposal. The number of people who died prematurely because of the Three Mile accident is still disputed by scientists. Estimates range from zero to thousands. Settlements paid by the reactor’s owner to people who lived near the reactor required people who got the money to remain silent about the accident. This story is told in several sources: a book by David Reynolds called “One World Divisible;” a book by Robert Duffy, called “Nuclear Politics in America;” a book by Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon called “Killing Our Own;” and an article by Grossman, “The Greening of Nuclear Power,” which was published by www.fair.org in “Extra!” magazine in February 2008.

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.

On March 22, 2012 in Brattleboro, 137 people were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience to close Vermont Yankee. About 1,500 people marched about three miles from downtown Brattleboro to Entergy's office, where they cheered in support of the people who were arrested.

Protests preceded the permanent shutdown of Shoreham, Yankee Atomic, Millstone I, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee and at least a dozen other nuclear power plants. 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."

Bob Mulholland ran a successful campaign to close the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant near Sacramento, Calif. Rancho Seco was closed in 1989 because the people of Sacramento voted to close it.

Mulholland, who now works for the California Democratic Party, told the Valley Post that the nuclear industry dramatically outspent the antinuclear groups in advertising before the referendum vote.

"David can beat Goliath," he told the Valley Post. "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."

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More information about Vermont Yankee, and the movement to close it is at:

www.valleypost.org/2007/11/09/what-can-history-nuclear-power-teach-us-ab...

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