NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 30, 2007

30 years later, another nuclear struggle looms

For Chris Nord, April 30, 2007, was in some ways not so different from April 30, 1977. In each case, he was acting as a watchdog of nuclear power, more specifically the Seabrook nuclear power plant. The difference: This year, he wasn’t arrested.

Nord was one of the more than 1,414 protesters taken away — some dragged, others like Nord taken willingly — from the future site of Seabrook Station 30 years ago today.

Yesterday, he was on a 32-foot ladder at Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury updating some of the most advanced radiation monitoring equipment in the country, working for C-10, a publicly funded nuclear monitoring agency located in Newburyport.

“It seemed in a way it was an appropriate thing to be doing 30 years later,” Nord said.

For Nord, who would later move to Newburyport, which is inside the 10-mile evacuation radius, and many like him, today is the anniversary of a historic act of civil disobedience that became part of a lifetime of activism.

With energy prices skyrocketing, global warming and calls for cleaner energy abounding, the nuclear industry is optimistic about a resurgence. And the anti-nuclear movement, including organizers of the Seabrook protests, is gearing up to respond.

Paul Gunter, who has made opposing nuclear power his career, is one.

“To ante up for another generation of nuclear power would be a colossal mistake that would really trivialize the Seabrook debacle,” said Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project at the anti-nuclear Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Because right now we have maybe 10 to 20 years to make some very critical energy policy decisions that affect global climate.”

At the time, the protests galvanized a national anti-nuclear movement that moved from Seabrook’s marshes to national money markets to effectively halt orders for new plants in the United States.

Seabrook was proposed as a twin-reactor plant in 1972, at an estimated cost of $973 million. When it finally won a commercial license in March 1990, it was a single reactor and cost $6.5 billion.

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