Shut It Down rings in New Year with solar for Vermont

Martha Hennessy and Paki Wieland

VERNON, Vermont — Ringing in the new year Saturday (January 1) by bringing solar panels to replace nuclear energy at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant here, nine women of the Shut It Down Affinity Group faced charges of unlawful trespass when town and state police arrested them just before two in the afternoon for blocking Entergy’s driveway.

Police booked the women and released them pending a February 28 court appearance in Windham County District Court in Brattleboro. It was Shut It Down’s eleventh witness against nuclear power at Vermont Yankee since the women began appearing there in December, 2005. Despite the women’s repeated insistence that they would appreciate follow-through on a court date, the state’s attorney has dropped all previous charges.

The nine arrested include four Vermonters, including Julia Bonafine of Shrewsbury, Martha Hennessy of Weathersfield, Robin Lloyd of Burlington, and Nina Swaim of Sharon, and five from Massachusetts, including Frances Crowe of Northampton, Marcia Gagliardi of Athol, Ellen Graves of West Springfield, Hattie Nestel of Athol, and Paki Wieland of Northampton. Ages range from Bonafine, just 40, to Crowe, who is 91.

With solar panel props and a sign reading “No More Leaks and No More Lies—Shut It Down Now,” the women of the affinity group urged the immediate shutdown of the nuclear plant. They stressed that solar, wind, and water power along with efficiency can replace nuclear energy without endangering health and at lower cost.

While blocking the Entergy driveway on Saturday, the women read the following statement:
“We are here at on New Year’s Eve to shut down Vermont Yankee now. Vermont, New England, and America can not wait until 2012 to end the dangerous, wasteful,  nefficient, and expensive nuclear power generated here.
“In its place, we bring Vermont the safe, sustainable, economical, and cost effective power of the sun. With solar, wind, and water power plus efficiency, we will go forward into the bright future of sufficient, renewable energy that is carbon-free, nuclear-free, and safe for all—including the workers who bring us electricity.
“We resolve to do everything possible to support immediate decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. No more leaks, no more lies, no more so-called unusual events.
“Out with the old and in with the new. The future is now. We can be carbon-free and nuclear-free.”

From left: Robin Lloyd, Julia Bonafine, Frances Crowe, Hattie Nestel, Ellen Graves, and Nina Swaim.