VY protesters stage 24-hour vigil

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[Please note: We usually do not publish the entire article; rather we a headline and lead with a link to the source. We reprinted this article as it pertains to a Traprock initiated action and hence is a part of our peace center’s history. Sunny Miller, Traprock’s Executive Director, is quoted below.]

original Brattleboro Reformer article.

VY protesters stage 24-hour vigil
By ANDY ROSEN, Reformer Staff

Tuesday, March 28
BRATTLEBORO — They started to show up around noon, and by 1 p.m., a small group of people opposed to nuclear energy in the region had gathered outside of the Entergy Vermont Yankee headquarters.

Don’t call them protesters, though, because this was not a protest, said participants, some of whom held posters and signs. It was a free speech demonstration, they said.
Sunny Miller of Deerfield, Mass., said she initiated the gathering as a forum to discuss the threat of a nuclear accident. She expected to stay outside of the plant for 24 hours, until noon today.

Brattleboro Police came by the area after 3 p.m., but the demonstrators said they were ultimately allowed to stay, so long as they did not disrupt traffic.

According to Miller, the demonstration differed from a typical protest in that not designed to promote a particular point of view. Instead, it was an attempt to promote dialogue about the issues surrounding nuclear power.

“I believe that the most important thing we have to do is talk about this problem so we can solve it together,” she said.

The demonstration was staged just outside of the headquarters, on a grassy area by the side of Old Ferry Road. Miller said she believed that area was a public right of way and the group was free to gather there.

Though Miller acknowledged that such a demonstration could be held anywhere, she thought this was a fitting location, because it might encourage people, including employees and executives, to stop and talk.

Protesters have been gathering monthly at Entergy’s headquarters since last fall. Most demonstrations have ended in arrests, but so far the state has dropped all charges against protesters.

She said she expected most people who showed up to be opponents of nuclear power, but she was hoping for some who support it to show up.

“I’d certainly welcome the dialogue,” said fellow demonstrator Bob McCormick of Leverett, Mass.

Miller said she wanted to talk to Entergy spokesman Rob Williams, and give him the opportunity to put her mind at ease. “If I’m wrong about this history of problems,” Miller said, “I’d like to know about it.”

Later in the day, she said she was not able to make contact with Williams, and hadn’t spoken with him.

Williams said he would not comment about whether or not he’d speak with protesters.

Those who attended said they’d like to see an independent safety assessment of Vermont Yankee, which might bring up previously unknown issues.

They also opposed the ongoing 20 percent uprate at the plant, saying it is dangerous and its effects are unknown.

If demonstrators are successful in lasting 24 hours, they’ll be at the headquarters when a group of protesters arrive after a planned march from downtown Brattleboro tomorrow.

That march will be set up to commemorate the 27th anniversary of a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

Lou Waronker, of Brattleboro, was at Monday’s demonstration, and said he’ll be marching today as well.

Waronker said he remembers hearing that there was almost no chance of a nuclear accident when plants like Vermont Yankee first opened in the early 1970s. Three Mile Island showed the world that such mishaps are possible, he said.

“It makes me committed to continue to work for the end of nuclear power,” he said.

Even if plants could be made 100 percent safe, he said there’s still the question of what to do with nuclear waste.

Waronker mentioned that he opposes dry cask storage at the facility in Vernon.

Andy Rosen can be reached at arosen@reformer.com