Senior women arrested in Vermont protest
VY protesters disappointed
By BOB AUDETTE
BRATTLEBORO -- The four women who were arrested Monday for
entering the gates of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to protest
the plant’s operation were cited for unlawful trespass and released
shortly after being taken into custody.
Even though some of the women have been arrested at the gates
up to seven times, those charges were all dropped prior to a court
hearing. Arrested were Harriet "Hattie" Nestel, 70, of Athol, Mass.,
Ellen Graves, 69, of West Springfield, Mass., Frances Crowe, 90,
of Northampton, Mass., and Patricia "Paki" Weiland, 66, also of
Nestel said having the charges dropped against them is
"We want to be able to testify in court on the reasons we were
there and why what we did is really a preventative action," she
said, during a telephone interview on Tuesday. "To save lives.
We want to be able to say that up front in court."
The Windham County State’s Attorney’s office, which decides
which cases should proceed to the courts, has declined to
press charges because it doesn’t want the court to be used
to make political statements.
In the past, Nestel and others have been arrested for spray-painting
anti-nuclear slogans on the pavement leading up to the security
gate and for chaining themselves together to prevent people
from entering the plant grounds.
They have been protesting at the site since 2005, said Nestel.
"There’s a great urgency and a great need for people to go there
and shut it down," said Nestel. "This is very serious and dangerous.
Nothing will change there until there is enough of a public outcry."
Even though all of the women are from Massachusetts, said Nestel,
they have a right to protest at the gates of the power plant. After all,
she said, the plant is only a few miles from the Massachusetts border.
"We are much more endangered by Vermont Yankee than most
everybody else in the state of Vermont," she said, describing the
10-mile emergency planning zone around the plant as
Any plume of radiation that would come from the plant if an accident
were to happen would be guided by the wind and would have no
respect for the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone.
"Nobody is really safe from this plant," said Nestel.
Emergency radios are issued for free to residents in the EPZ, she
said, and sirens are located in all of the towns in the EPZ. But if
you live 11 miles away from the plant or 111 miles away, she said,
you really have no idea what to do if there is an accident at the plant.
"We have no protection," said Nestel.
She also said people from who live outside of the EPZ have a
right to protest at the plant because of the heated water that
Yankee discharges into the Connecticut River.
"Only four and a half miles of the river is in Vermont," she said,
with the rest being in Massachusetts and Connecticut. "We get the dead fish."
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.