Anti-nuclear protests in the United States
This is a list of notable anti-nuclear protests in the United States. Many anti-nuclear campaigns captured national public attention in the 1970s and 1980s, including those at Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and those following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
The largest anti-nuclear demonstration to date was held in New York City on September 23, 1979 when almost 200,000 people attended. The New York rally was held in conjunction with a series of nightly “No Nukes” concerts given at Madison Square Garden from September 19 through 23.
Pacific Gas & Electric planned to build the first commercially viable nuclear power plant in the USA at Bodega Bay, a fishing village fifty miles north of San Francisco. The proposal was controversial and conflict with local citizens began in 1958. In 1963 there was a large demonstration at the site of the proposed Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant. The conflict ended in 1964, with the forced abandonment of plans for the power plant. Attempts to build a nuclear power plant in Malibu were similar to those at Bodega Bay and were also abandoned.
Montague Nuclear Power Plant
On 22 February 1974, Washington's Birthday, organic farmer Sam Lovejoy took a crowbar to the weather-monitoring tower which had been erected at the Montague Nuclear Power Plant site. Lovejoy felled 349 feet of the 550 foot tower and then took himself to the local police station, where he presented a statement in which he took full responsibility for the action. Lovejoy's action galvanized local public opinion against the plant. The Montague nuclear power plant proposal was canceled in 1980, after $29 million was spent on the project.
Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant
Seabrook power plant was proposed as a twin-reactor plant in 1972, at an estimated cost of $973 million. When it finally won a commercial license in March 1990, it was a single reactor which cost $6.5 billion. Over a period of thirteen years, more than 4,000 citizens committed nonviolent civil disobedience at Seabrook:
- August 1, 1976: 200 residents rallied at the future Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant site in New Hampshire, and 18 were arrested for criminal trespass.
- August 22, 1976: 188 activists from New England were arrested at the Seabrook site.
- May 2, 1977: 1,414 protesters were arrested at Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant. The protesters who were arrested were expected to be "released on their own recognizance", but this did not happen. Instead, they were charged with criminal trespass and asked to post bail ranging from $100 to $500. They refused and were then held in five national guard armories for 12 days. The Seabrook conflict, and role of New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson, received much national media coverage.
- May 13, 1977: 550 protestors were freed after being detained for thirteen days.
- June 1978: some 12,000 people attended a protest at Seabrook.
- May 25-27 1980: Police use tear gas, riot sticks and dogs to drive 2,000 demonstrators away from the Seabrook site.
- May 24, 1986: 74 anti-nuclear demonstrators were arrested in protests.
- October 17, 1988: 84 people were arrested at the Seabrook plant.
- June 5, 1989: hundreds of demonstrators protested against the plant's first low-power testing, and the police arrested 627 people for trespassing; two state legislators, one from Massachusetts and one from New Hampshire, protested.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
- August 6, 1977: The Abalone Alliance held the first blockade at Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California, and 47 people were arrested.
- August 1978: almost 500 people were arrested for protesting at Diablo Canyon.
- April 8, 1979: 30,000 people marched in San Francisco to support shutting down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
- June 30, 1979: about 40,000 people attended a protest rally at Diablo Canyon.
- September 1981: more than 900 protesters were arrested at Diablo Canyon.
- May 1984: about 130 demonstrators showed up for start-up day at Diablo Canyon, and five were arrested.
Three Mile Island accident
Even before the Three Mile Island accident, the nuclear industry was facing considerable adverse public opinion. A "sizeable and tenacious opposition movement had caused significant delays" in the licensing and construction of new power plants in the United States. The TMI accident stimulated a rise in anti-nuclear sentiment.
The American public were concerned about the release of radioactive gas from the Three Mile Island accident and many mass demonstrations took place across the country in the following months. The largest one was held in New York City in September 1979 and involved two hundred thousand people; speeches were given by Jane Fonda and Ralph Nader. The New York rally was held in conjunction with a series of nightly “No Nukes” concerts given at Madison Square Garden from September 19 through 23 by Musicians United for Safe Energy.
Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant
- June 2, 1979: about 500 people were arrested for protesting about construction of the Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant in Oklahoma.
- February 1982: following years of legal action and protests, it was announced that the plant would not be built.
Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant
- June 3, 1979: following the Three Mile Island accident, some 15,000 people attended a rally organized by the Shad Alliance and about 600 were arrested at Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in New York.
- 1989: after many years of protests, the completed Shoreham plant was closed without generating any commercial electrical power.
Rocky Flats Plant
- April 28, 1979: 15,000 people demonstrated against the Rocky Flats Nuclear Processing Plant in Colorado, making the link between nuclear power and nuclear weaponry.
- October 15, 1983: Large demonstration at Rocky Flats.
- August, 1989: An estimated 3,500 people turned out for a demonstration at Rocky Flats.
Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant
In 1979, Abalone Alliance members held a 38-day sit-in in the Californian Governor Jerry Brown's office to protest continued operation of Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, which was a duplicate of the Three Mile Island facility. In 1989, Sacremento voters voted to shut down the Rancho Seco power plant.
Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
- September 23, 1979: some 167 protesters were arrested at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.
- January 2006: 100 anti-nuclear supporters demonstrated at the front door of Entergy Nuclear, and eleven people were arrested for trespassing.
- October 2006: 26 people were arrested outside the Brattleboro offices of owner Entergy Nuclear; the demonstration drew about 200 people.
- April 27, 2007: Seven anti-nuclear activists were arrested after chaining themselves to a fence at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The protesters, who call themselves the "Raging Grannies", wanted the plant shut down and have engaged in dozens of similar actions since December 2005.
- November 2008: About 15 people held a rowdy protest against Vermont Yankee in the offices of the Public Service Board that regulates utilities.
- April 2009: A rally and two full-page advertisements in The Burlington Free Press, which mocked the Vermont Yankee Power Plant, were paid for by a newly formed group, The Clean Green Vermont Alliance.
- April 2009: About 150 activists marched from Montpelier's City Hall to the State House to urge lawmakers to back development of clean energy sources such as wind power and solar power; the marchers had gathered 12,000 signatures in support of closing Vermont Yankee.
- September 2009: Frances Crowe and three other women were arrested for non-violent civil disobedience at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
- January 2010: A coalition of anti-nuclear activists participated in a 126-mile walk from Brattleboro to Montpelier in an effort to block the re-licensing of Vermont Yankee. About 175 people took part in the March, some joining for the day and some for longer stretches.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
- June 22, 1980: about 15,000 people attended a protest near San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California.
Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament
In 1986, hundreds of people walked from Los Angeles to Washington DC in what is referred to as the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. The march took nine months to traverse Template:Convert, advancing approximately fifteen miles per day.
- January 19, 2008: Seventeen people protesting about nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor in honor of Martin Luther King. Jr. were detained or arrested. All were released shortly afterward.
- May 30, 2008: Twelve people were arrested at an anti-nuclear weapon demonstration at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor — five of them for walking on a sidewalk closed to pedestrian traffic.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- June 22, 1982: More than 1,300 anti-nuclear protesters were arrested in a nonviolent demonstration.
- There is an annual protest against U.S. nuclear weapons research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. In the 2007 protest, 64 people were arrested. More than 80 people were arrested in March 2008 while protesting at the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Nevada Test Site
From 1986 through 1994, two years after the United States put a hold on full-scale nuclear weapons testing, 536 demonstrations were held at the Nevada Test Site involving 37,488 participants and 15,740 arrests, according to government records. These are just a few details:
- January, 1987: The actor Martin Sheen and 71 other anti-nuclear protesters were arrested at the Nevada Test Site in a demonstration marking the 36th anniversary of the first nuclear test there.
- February 6, 1987: More than 400 people were arrested, when they tried to enter the nation's nuclear proving grounds after nearly 2,000 demonstrators, including six members of Congress, held a rally to protest nuclear weapons testing.
- September 30, 1987: 110 demonstrators, including seven pediatricians, were arrested for civil disobedience; charges were later dropped.
- March 20, 1989: 75 protesters, including Louis Vitale, were arrested for trespassing in a peaceful Palm Sunday demonstration.
- April 20, 1992: 493 anti-nuclear protesters were arrested on misdemeanor charges, as demonstrators clashed with guards at an annual Easter demonstration against weapons testing at the remote desert site.
- August 6, 1995: 500 people gathered to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
- 1997: Over 2,000 people turned out for a demonstration and 700 were arrested.
- August 2005: About 200 peace activists, including actor Martin Sheen, gathered for a nonviolent demonstration outside the gates; dozens were given citations and released after crossing police lines.
- May 2006: 200 activists protested the Divine Strake explosives test, and 40 were arrested.
- April 2007: Nevada Desert Experience protest, where 39 people were cited by police.
- May 1, 2005: 40,000 anti-nuclear/anti-war protesters march past the UN in New York, 60 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- 2008: Protests about several proposed nuclear reactors.
- Anti-nuclear movement in the United States
- List of anti-nuclear groups
- Books about nuclear issues
- Nuclear power
- Civil disobedience
- Amory Lovins
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