Civil Liberties

The construction and operation of dangerous nuclear reactors - and the infrastructure needed to support them - inevitably flout civil liberties. Most recently, the opportunities for public intervention against proposed new reactors have been severely curtailed, often leaving a window open largely after the project is a fait accompli.



Atomic reactor operators sue Green Mountain State for allegedly violating their civil liberties by closure of Vermont Yankee

As reported in the Brattleboro Reformer, in an odd twist on the theme "nuclear power and civil liberties," seven senior nuclear control room operators at Vermont Yankee atomic reactor have sued the State of Vermont for supposedly violating their civil liberties by forcing the shutdown of the atomic reactor on March 21, 2012 -- the expiration of its original 40 year operating license. The operators complain they would have to undergo rigorous training to become re-certified to operate any other atomic reactor in the U.S. In a follow on article in the Brattleboro Reformer, the Attorney General of the State of Vermont states that he thinks Entergy Nuclear is not only financing this lawsuit, but may have even written the legal brief, in an effort to put a human face on its own lawsuit against the Green Mountain State filed recently. The A.G. called the allegation of civil rights violations "a stretch." The aggrieved nuclear operators told the Reformer that Vermont is their home, having lived there for 11 to 15 years. However, Bob Stannard, "the People's Lobbyist" working on behalf of Vermont Citizens Action Network in Vermont's state legislature for the reactor's closure, traces his ancestry in Vermont back to the year 1760.


Anti-nuclear protestors seriously injured by French police during high-level radioactive waste shipment

Three non-violent anti-nuclear protestors who locked themselves to the tracks to block a train carrying 11 containers of high-level radioactive waste being shipped from La Hague, France to Gorleben, Germany were seriously injured by French police over the weekend. The blockade, near the Caen, France train station, stalled the shipment for three and a half hours; others like it across France and Germany made the shipment take twice as long as authorities had planned. Train track blockades are a years-old tactic in Germany and France. Several years ago, a young French anti-nuclear activist was killed when the train failed to stop. This time, the three were seriously injured when police took violent measures to remove their non-violent blockade. Police cut through the metal tubes within which the non-violent activists' arms were locked, severing two tendons in one activist's hand which required he undergo surgery, and burning two other activists' skin to the point where skin grafts are necessary. The non-violent activist with the severed tendons was taken into police custody immediately after leaving the hospital, and the two activists with burns were held by the police overnight and were not able to consult with medical doctors until much later the next day. In the end, six activists were kept in custody for 24 hours; they, and another activist, must pay 16,500 €uros ($23,000) in bail by November 15th, or else be held in jail until their court date on December 8th. The French anti-nuclear coalition Sortir du Nucleaire issued a press release, calling for monetary support for the activists' legal defense fund. The activists will file a complaint about the police brutality they experienced. (Photo: Martin Leers).


Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security compares environmental activists to Al Qaeda

The State of Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security has not only compared non-violent, law abiding eco-activists to Al Qaeda, but even recruited "citizen spies" with "coffee and donuts" to funnel information about environmental activism to the Institute for Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), a private contractor working not only for the State, but also for large corporations, including from the energy sector and "critical infrastructure." 

Referring to the involvement of the natural gas hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") industry, Witold Walczak, legal director for ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in response “It’s one thing for private industry to hire groups like ITRR to gather information, but for the government to get involved — you’ve got a nasty menage-a-trois going on here and the citizen activists are the ones getting fracked.”

An email exchange between the State Office of Homeland Security and an ITRR founder recognizes that eco groups are “paranoid. They know they’re always one step away from ‘police repression.’ ”


Like to comment on reactor safety and environmental impacts? Show your government issued ID and open your trunk!

As reported by Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade -- board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and longtime nuclear power muckraker -- concerned citizens wishing to take part in an NRC public meeting about FirstEnergy's application for a 20 year license extension at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo must show government issued identification, and submit to a vehicle search. This is because NRC chose to hold its "public" meeting and "open house" at the Camp Perry training complex of the Ohio National Guard (infamous for the May 4, 1970 Kent State University shootings that left three unarmed college anti-Vietnam War protestors, and another young woman who was simply walking to class, dead. Nine other students were wounded, one permanently paralyzed.)



Dr. Howard Zinn makes the case for non-violent civil disobedience

In this tribute to the late Howard Zinn, Beyond Nuclear presents Dr. Zinn's compelling testimony in which he makes the case for non-violent civil disobedience as instrumental in changing American history and advancing democracy. Dr. Zinn testified for the defense at the criminal trial of the AVCO Plowshares 7. On July 14, 1983, the defendents hammered equipment and poured blood on blueprints for the Cruise Missile and Missile X in a factory in Wilmington, MA.

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