Seven women arrested after closing Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on originally scheduled date

Locking the Gate, from left, Frances Crowe, Hattie Nestel, Anneke Corbett, Ellen Graves, and Paki Wieland. photo by Marcia Gagliardi

from the Shut it Down affinity group

Seven women of the Shut It Down Affinity Group chained the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant gate shut at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, the power plant’s fortieth birthday and the date it was originally scheduled to close.

The plant’s operating license expired on Wednesday. Entergy Corporation continues the nuclear plant’s function courtesy of a twenty-year extension and the recent decision of federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha, whose order allows the plant to operate despite appeals surrounding lawsuits from concerned citizens who want Vermont Yankee to close.

Asserting that operation of Vermont Yankee has “always been unethical,” Shut It Downers issued a statement holding that, after license expiration, operation of Vermont Yankee is “now illegal.” The women cited “spewed radiation into the land, air, and water” as grounds for shutting down the plant.

Vernon police led by Chief Mary-Beth Hebert coordinated arresting officers from the sheriff’s departments of Bennington and Windham counties as well as from Vernon. Chief Hebert charged the women with unlawful trespass and released them on personal recognizance. No court date was set.

Arrested were, all from Massachusetts, Anneke Corbett of Florence; Frances Crowe, Connie Harvard, and Paki Wieland of Northampton; Marcia Gagliardi and Hattie Nestel of Athol; Ellen Graves of West Springfield. Shut It Down has staged sixteen civil resistance actions at Vermont Yankee or Entergy headquarters since 2005, all of them aimed at shutting down the nuclear power plant. Ruth Hooke of Amherst, Massachusetts, and Deb Reger of Corinth, Vermont, served as support.

Walkers under the auspices of the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts and the Grafton, New York Peace Pagoda arrived to offer prayer for the closure of Vermont Yankee after the women were released. On a perfect spring day, the colorful walk with more than fifty participants enhanced the gravity of Shut It Down’s message with the Nicheren Buddhist prayer, a call to the eternal Buddha, “Na Mu Myoho Renge Kyo,” which is sometimes translated from the Japanese as “These are the words the Buddha said” or “We are one” or “All life is sacred.”

Other groups opposed to Vermont Yankee held a 40th birthday party in Montpelier today with pleas to the government of Vermont to shut it down.