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Vowing to 'Shut It Down,' Vermont Yankee Protesters Put Their Bodies on the Line

'The legislature hasn’t done it. Bernie Sanders hasn’t done it. We have to do it. We have to keep going there with our locks and chains until they shut Vermont Yankee down for good.'

- Beth Brogan, staff writer

Fourteen members of the 'Shut It Down' Affinity Group renewed their public campaign against Vermont Yankee on Thursday, protesting the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant owned by the Entergy corporation by blockading the company's headquarters in Brattleboro.

Shut-It-Downers blocking the main gate at Entergy Headquarters after The People’s Payment rally are, from left, Connie Harvard, Nina Swaim, Anneke Corbett, Priscilla Lynch, Susan Lantz, Ellen Graves, Ulrike Moltke, Linda Pon Owen, Nancy First, and Patricia Greene. (Photograph: Marcia Gagliardi / Shut It Down Affinity Group) Following a downtown rally that drew some 50 supporters holding signs reading "Entergy = Fukushima" and "Carbon Free, Nuclear Free," protesters marched down Main Street shouting "Shut Down Vermont Yankee now!"

"We must put our bodies on the line," Gagliardi told those gathered at the rally, the Brattleboro Reformer reports. "We must stand in the way of the government, the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), the corporations."

The 14 women then drove to the Entergy headquarters and blocked the the entrance before local police arrived and told them they were trespassing. In response, as the Reformer reports, Gagliardi told police: "Entergy is trespassing right here, right now."

Though reports indicate that police temporarily took the blockading activists into custody, no charges were filed and no officials arrests made.

Prior to the rally, the group delivered $3,264 in fines and court costs—which they dubbed "The People's Payment"—imposed after six members of the group were convicted in November of trespassing at the plant in August 2011.

Hattie Nestol, one of the six women convicted for the gate-blocking, told the group on Thursday, “The governor hasn’t shut Vermont Yankee down. The legislature hasn’t done it. Bernie Sanders hasn’t done it. We have to do it. We have to keep going there with our locks and chains until they shut Vermont Yankee down for good.”

The Vermont Legislature voted in 2010 to not allow the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to operate past March 2012—20 years beyond the expiration of its original 40-year license.

According to Shut It Down Affinity Group:

Vermont is the only state in the US whose legislature has granted itself the authority to approve or reject the continued operation of a nuclear reactor. So what happens here will be precedent-setting for the nation. It is very important that as many voices of opposition be raised as possible—especially the voices of people living “in the shadow” of the reactor who are most affected, most at risk, most in harm’s way.

Among the groups contributing to the fine payment was a Quaker group from Northampton, Mass., who said in a January 2012 statement:

As members of the Northampton Friends Meeting, we strongly support the closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant. Nuclear power is a very dangerous way to make electricity, and the owners of Vermont Yankee have not earned our trust. We already have decades worth of poisonous nuclear waste stored on the banks of the Connecticut River that will need to be handled with utmost care. It is time to stop adding nuclear waste to those spent fuel pools.

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Frances Crowe addresses The People’s Payment rally at Wells Fountain while Susan Lantz provides a bullhorn. Nina Swaim, left, displays a sign: Women Say No to Nuclear Power. (Photograph: Marcia Gagliardi / Shut It Down Affinity Group)

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Hattie Nestel exhorts The People’s Payment rally to take the law into its own hands in order to shut down Vermont Yankee since, she emphasized, the government has not done its job. (Photograph: Marcia Gagliardi / Shut It Down Affinity Group)

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