Shut-It-Downers end series of protests with Earth Day presence at Vermont Yankee

Linda Pon Owens in police cruiser

from the Shut It Down affinity group

Vernon, Vermont—Accompanied by the drums and prayers of the monks and nuns of the New England Peace Pagoda, the Shut It Down Affinity Group concluded a weeklong series of gate-blocking presences at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Monday, April 22. Vernon Police Sergeant Bruce Gauld arrested the women while the monks and nuns continued to pray at the site.

Shut It Down timed its Monday observance to coincide with Earth Day and the weeklong series to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr., who called for repeated civil resistance in the face of injustice.

Arrested Monday were Hattie Nestel of Athol, Massachusetts, for the fifth time in the series and, each for the second time, from Massachusetts, Marcia Gagliardi of Athol, Anneke Corbett of Florence, and Connie Harvard of Northampton and, from Vermont, Linda Pon Owens of Brattleboro.

Arrested last week in addition to those listed above were, from Massachusetts, Priscilla Lynch of Colrain, twice; Frances Crowe of Northampton, Ellen Graves of West Springfield, and Judy Wolter of Northfield and, from Vermont, Ulricke Moltke and Nina Swaim.

The women carried signs Monday reminding observers that the Entergy nuclear reactor is of the same model as the one that melted down at Fukushima and that residents of West, Texas never imagined that the fertilizer plant in their midst would explode to cause disaster.

“We want to make it clear that Vermont Yankee should shut down before it causes a radioactive disaster that will make the surrounding area a wasteland for an area of many miles,” Nestel said. “This is not alarmism. This is sanity. This is smart and preventative. Entergy and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission should heed this way of thinking.”

The women read a statement Monday that said:

We are here today, Earth Day 2013, to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Earth Day 2013 is about the Face of Climate Change, and we foresee the changed face of the landscape in Vernon, Vermont when the nuclear power plant is gone.

Vernon, Vermont, New England, and the earth will have a cleaner face without Vermont Yankee, whose spent fuel threatens us all and will pollute the earth for thousands of years. Providing the fuel for Vermont Yankee requires the use of more fossil fuel for mining and transportation and outside power than the nuclear power plant itself provides.

We look forward to a truly green, sustainable, nuclear-free, carbon-free future here at this site when it is changed to a green field, and electric power is generated in Vermont entirely by truly green sources like wind or solar or water power. In that day, the Face of Climate Change will truly have transformed.

Inspired by the prospect of a nuclear-free, carbon-free future, we are here during the month commemorating the 50th anniversary of the letter from Birmingham jail, the statement of Martin Luther King, Jr. invoking the necessity of repeated resistance to the evils surrounding him.

We are surrounded by the evils of Vermont Yankee: the invisible evils of radiation, stored spent fuel rods, leaks of radioactive isotopes into groundwater and arable soil of the beautiful countryside, leaks of radioactivity into the air we breathe.

We are here on Earth Day to shut down Vermont Yankee and transform the face of this landscape.

Entergy, Vermont Yankee’s corporate owner, perpetrates daily, constant, and dangerous injustice here at this nuclear power plant.

We are here in the spirit of nonviolence and imminent warning to Shut Down Vermont Yankee because of Entergy’s corporate greed at the expense of all living things.

As Dr. King said in his letter from Birmingham jail to colleagues in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “I am here because injustice is here.”

We are here because injustice is here: the government protects corporations. Individuals are expendable. People who get sick or die of cancer from invisible radiation are the collateral damage of dangerous nuclear power.

We do not want our friends, neighbors, families, nor ourselves to be collateral damage.

Shut Down Vermont Yankee now!