Shut It Down affinity group observes Earth Day at Vermont Yankee

photo by Hattie Nestel

Costumed in hazmat suits and toting Geiger counter props, eight members of the Shut It Down Affinity Group with three supporters leafleted with a Can Fukushima Happen Here? brochure in downtown Brattleboro on Tuesday, April 24. They then appeared in nearby Vernon to block the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant gate by chaining themselves to it and stretching crime scene tape across the driveway.
Shut It Downers designed their presence in keeping with Earth Day the past Sunday in order to call attention to Vermont Yankee’s danger to the land, air, and water, their statement said.
“We were able to breach security at the power plant by getting through the second gate,” said Hattie Nestel, 73, of Athol, Massachusetts, one of those arrested. “It was the first time we were able to lock the gate shut from the inside.”
Vernon police arrived within fifteen minutes to enforce the request of Entergy officials that the women leave the premises or be arrested for trespass. The eight women were transported to Vernon police headquarters, where they were booked and released. No court date was set. Entergy Corporation operates Vermont Yankee.
Six women of the Shut It Down group recently appeared in Windham County District Court’s Criminal Division for a pretrial hearing involving their closure of the power plant on August 30, 2012. Judge David Suntag presided at pretrial proceedings involving Nestel and, from Northampton, Frances Crowe, 93, Nancy First, 82, and Paki Wieland, 68; from West Springfield, Ellen Graves, 68; from Colrain, Betsy Corner, 63.
Arrested with Nestel on Tuesday were Crowe, Graves, and, from Northampton, Susan Lantz, 72, and Connie Harvard, 65; from Athol, Marcia Gagliardi, 64; from Florence, Anneke Corbett, 68; from Perkinsville, Vermont, Martha Hennessy, 60.
Before they were arrested, the women read the following statement:
“We are here today to shut down Vermont Yankee because we want to prevent another Fukushima. The Vermont Yankee reactor is a Mark I boiling water reactor just like the melted-down reactors at Fukushima. Those reactors have been pouring radioactivity into the environment since they were built, but since the meltdown, they have been literally out of control, poisoning land, air, and water from Japan to places all over the world.
“Nuclear power is always the carrier of radioactivity. Human beings, even the fine engineers and workers at Vermont Yankee, are not capable of controlling nuclear power.
“We must shut down Vermont Yankee and end the nuclear cycle. Nuclear power is not the answer. We must look to a safe and green future for the earth. We must look to a carbon free, nuclear free future.
“Shut it down now.”
Tuesday’s arrest marks the eighteenth time since 2005 that the Shut It Down Affinity Group has acted to close Vermont Yankee.