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Crystal Zevon

Crystal Zevon is author of 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,' an oral history of the life of her former husband and lifelong friend and co-conspirator

February 21st, 2010 11:52 PM

Shut Down Vermont Yankee!

I'm very gratified to see all the comments on my recent post about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. A variety of issues come up when we think of the nuke industry; I think the key to all that’s going on is coordinate and combine efforts to expose the truth about nuclear energy and the people behind it…then and now…old and new. Right now, I’m amazed at how brilliantly the nuclear industry has played their cards, and how pitifully those of us coming out of the anti-nuke movement of the 70s and 80s dropped the ball. After Three Mile Island, when a moratorium was called on licensing new nukes, most of us just patted ourselves on the backs and drifted off to other important issues. Well, friends, time to wake up. It’s back in spades. The nuke industry sat back, raking in zillions of dollars, lying in wait for the moment to pounce again. Their claws are sharpened. They’re ready for action. And we’re scattered like chicken feed.

I’ve been an anti-nuke proponent for so long sometimes I feel like what’s happening is some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve been lying around with pneumonia with MSNBC or CNN hazily wafting in and out of my consciousness and a couple days ago I’m suddenly sitting stock up-right mesmerized by the image of our illustrious President Obama standing behind the podium a long line of nuclear workers resplendent in their telltale hard hats as his backdrop. He can’t really be saying $8.33 BILLION in loans for new nukes? Then later, there’s Obama’s “Energy and Climate Change Czar” Carol Browner offering comments, SELLING the plan. CNN asked, vaguely and without follow-up, what she would say to people concerned about safety and waste storage. Her response? "What we would say to them is, they shouldn't worry." That's an exact quote. I’m not kidding.

So, here’s what I think. The movement is fractured. We need one big effort, not a bunch of small local efforts that get local attention but allow the nuclear industry (and our president) to promote this idea of ‘clean’ energy. People are buying it. Obama’s bought it. People who should know better. People who honestly support and fight for environmental issues. So, why don’t they get it about nukes? Because we let down our guard and allowed the nuclear industry to fractionalize and marginalize the anti-nuke movement. We became old news, out-of-date and out-of-touch.

Lately, as I still wonder with every glass of water I drink if my internal organs are glowing, I’ve started tracing it back. And the strategy of the nuclear giants is nothing short of genius. They divert attention and fractionalize opposition movement(s). While journalist and activists are talking about the money issues and why Wall Street doesn’t invest in nukes, why is nobody linking that to how, if it’s all so bloody safe, 30 of the 107 operating plants are leaking radioactive tritium? Why aren’t they linking the health risks and the long record of accidents to cost cutting at the expense of safety and reliability by companies like Entergy, which operates Vermont Yankee? Why aren't they exposing the bogus claims that these companies will provide "jobs"? (Entergy also owns and operates nuclear, gas-fired, and coal-fired power plants in southern states with long histories of cutting costs by replacing permanent employees with “contract workers.") Why isn’t the press covering the outright lies about radiation leaks at Vermont Yankee straight from the mouths of Entergy executives? (Thankfully, the Vermont legislature is taking notice and the state senate will vote this Wednesday on whether to re-license this tattered, old, accident-prone nuclear plant in 2012.) Issues like that are big deals in areas around any operating nuclear plant, but where is the national media?

One of the comments asked how to get involved. Ah, the place to start. Get on the Shut Down Vermont Yankee bandwagon. If we can have a success here, we can use it to bring people together on this issue, link it to the new nukes and the problems at other operating plants. So, here are some things happening in the immediate future. Do what you can.

1. MONDAY, Feb. 22nd - Tune in to my friend Stephanie Fraser’s radio show on WGDR between noon and 1 p.m. I just got off the phone with my dear friend Jackson Browne and he’ll be calling in. He also said he’s been conferencing with all the Musicians United for Safe Energy folks about what they can do. (In addition to Jackson there's Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash and John Hall, now a representative in Congress from New York State.) This is two days before the Vermont Vote.

3. WEDNESDAY, Feb 24th – Go to the State House in Montpelier, Vermont to make your presence felt for the vote on Act 160, which may shut down Vermont Yankee.

Carpool coordination for MA will be John Hoffman,, 413.625.6967; Carpool coordination for VT will be Bob Bady,, (802) 258-7550. People will converge at the VT Statehouse outside the Senate Chamber beginning at 9 a.m.

4. Call Vermont's state senators and representatives at 802-828-2231. Now. Today. Write letters to the editor. Talk to people. Let’s shut this plant down. For my grandson’s sake. Do it.

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