Valley Nuke Protesters Face Up to 90 Days in Prison

Six women will be in court in Brattleboro on November 27 and 28 for non-violent civil disobedience at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 90 days in prison and a $500 fine. “We are charging them with misdemeanor trespass,” Steve Brown told the Valley Post. He is a Deputy Windham County State’s Attorney in Brattleboro:

The women who will face charges are Hattie Nestel of Athol, Massachusetts; Paki Wieland, Nancy First, and Frances Crowe of Northampton; Betsy Corner of Colrain, Massachusetts; and Ellen Graves of West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The trial begins at 9 a.m. both days at 30 Putney Road in downtown Brattleboro. The women are asking the public to attend the trial to show their support, according to Marcia Gagliardi of Athol, Massachusetts. She can be reached at or by phone at 800-215-8805. One group that has helped organize non-violent civil disobedience at Vermont Yankee in recent years has a web site at

Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. It's owned by Entergy Corporation of Louisiana.

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 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 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."


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


On November 27, the women

On November 27, the women were found guilty and were fined $350 each. They will not be sent to jail. They did not have a lawyer.


Love hearing these wonderful ladies are stepping up to the plate and providing real leadership to the community. Too bad that can't be said for the prosecutors who seem to have forgotten they have a mandate not to convict but to do justice. Do they seriously want to see these women in jail? How about jail for the utility company execs who cut corners and put people at risk?

I learned recently, never knew, there was a meltdown near Los Angeles in 1959 at a plant in Simi Valley. In 2006 a bunch of people settled a lawsuit, but people are still getting sick, judging from the comments on the Living On Earth radio program site which documented the lawsuit settlement. I've lived in the L.A. area since 94 and never heard a word about it...neither had many people who commented on the site.

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