Fifteen women were arrested at the Entergy Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Thursday afternoon, June 30, 2011 The women were charged with trespass after advocating for replacing nuclear power with solar power. They are the largest contingent of the Shut-It-Down affinity group to date.
Those arrested included three in their nineties: Valerie Mullen, 90, of Vershire, VT; Frances Crowe, 92, of Northampton, MA, and Lea Wood, 94, of Montpelier, VT.
Also arrested were two octogenarians, Jean Grossholtz, 82, of South Hadley, MA and Nancy First, 82, of Northampton. The others arrested were: Susan Spencer Smith, 60, of Burlington, VT,
Sandra Boston, 71, of Greenfield, MA; Nina Swaim, 73, of Sharon, VT; Betsy Corner, 64, of Colrain, MA; Ellen Graves, 68, of West Springfield, MA; Robin Lloyd, 72, of Burlington, VT; Hattie Nestel, 72, Marcia Gagliardi, 63, of Athol, MA; Nelia Sargent, 55, of Claremont, NH, and the youngest Julia Bonafine, 42, of Cuttinsgville, VT.
Members of the group spray-painted the words “Go solar under the grid,” stretched caution tape across the Vermont Yankee driveway, locked the chain-link entrance to the power plant shut, and held a sign reading “Go solar under the grid.” Some held placards representing carbon-free, nuclear-free solar power.
Vernon police officer Matthew Stains arrived soon after the women had established themselves at the plant gate. Meanwhile, plant workers in automobiles intending to leave the plant at the end of a shift through the exit (which was not blocked by the demonstrators) were detained behind another gate by Vermont Yankee security. In sympathy for the unnecessarily detained workers, the women cried, “Let the workers go!”
Before their arrests, the women read this statement:
“It is long past time to shut down Vermont Yankee, this inefficient, dangerously damaged, nuclear plant. We know we CAN have a safe reliable energy source that will protect and cherish our planet and help all living things to survive and even prosper. Events in Japan and here in Vernon make clear that nuclear dangers in all cases have been exacerbated by corruption of safety standards, lack of independent on-site inspections, and failure to take into account the likelihood of natural disasters.’
“The same combination of private corporations and political forces are at work all over the world. It remains to be seen if serious WHOLE HEARTED REGULATION AND INSPECTION ever could make such terrifying energy safe. But to date it has not happened. Our local experience watching Vermont Yankee licensed and relicensed despite numerous failures of the safety provisions, leaking radiation into our streams and rivers makes us ask ourselves, What would have happened if this deadly tornado that decimated the greater Springfield, Massachusetts, area had hit the Vernon area?’
“Safety standards have been seriously corrupted because there are no independent on-site inspections and no recognition of natural disasters nor provision for what to do in the event of them. We saw the same thing in Japan and are seeing again in nuclear plants along the flooded rivers of the Midwest and elsewhere.’
“Alternative energy must be a national project involving not only energy companies and engineers but also environmentalists, farmers, fisherfolk, factory workers, desk jockeys, and home owners. In short, all of us.’
“Meanwhile, right here, right now we have the opportunity to lead the way. Let’s dig up all the nuclear-powered wires under this grid and build a solar energy field. We have the space. All we need is the will. Shut it down. Put solar under the grid.”
After being taken into custody, they were transported by Vermont State Police troopers to the Vernon police station where they were booked and released pending a July 19 court appearance in Windham County District Court, Brattleboro, Vermont.