Twelve women block gate at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant

photo by Marcia Gagliardi

photo by Marcia Gagliardi

VERNON, Vermont — In pouring rain, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin joined the Shut It Down Affinity Group on Friday, May 9 to block the gate at Entergy Corporation’s Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant here before police arrested twelve women for unlawful trespass. No court date has been set.

Before blocking the Vermont Yankee gate, the women stood with balloons and banners across from nearby Vernon Elementary School to urge love for mother earth as Mother’s Day approached.

Vernon police officer Albrey Crowley single-handedly transported the arrestees by threes and fours to the nearby Vernon Police Station. Vernon townspeople voted Monday to terminate its police department as of July 1.

“We are nonviolent and come with the expressed purpose of shutting down Vermont Yankee,” said Hattie Nestel, 75, of Athol, Massachusetts, one of the women arrested Friday. “What if we were intent on using weapons to invade Vermont Yankee in order to obtain nuclear material or, worse, create an explosion that would devastate an area for a radius of fifty or a hundred or more miles?

“Entergy says there is no reason to maintain an evacuation zone,” Nestel continued, “and Vernon thinks it’s fine to have no police department even though enough nuclear material to blow up all of New England will be stored at the site for years to come even if Entergy decides to clean up the place as expediently as possible. Which it doesn’t.”

While blocking the gate before police arrived to arrest them, the women read a statement entitled, “Don’t Believe a Word Entergy Says.”

Arrested Friday at Vermont Yankee were, from Vermont, Linda Pon Owen, 74, of Brattleboro; from Massachusetts, from Athol, Hattie Nestel, 75, and Marcia Gagliardi, 66; from Conway, Priscilla Lynch, 62; from Florence, Anneke Corbett, 71; from Northampton, Frances Crowe, 95; Nancy First, 84; Susan Lantz, 73; from South Hadley, Jean Grossholtz, 85; from West Springfield, Ellen Graves, 73; from Washington, DC, Benjamin, 61.