“The year 1973 was the worst year for nuclear power. It’s just astonishing when you look back on it. When we built the Yankee Atomic plant in Rowe, Massachusetts, in 1960, everybody thought it was a great idea. It was there because Senator Jack Kennedy said, ‘Please build it here.’ Presidents, senators, congressmen, local people—all thought it was great. And we built six other plants. New England had, prior to 1972, seven plants making one third of the electricity in New England. And everybody thought it was a great idea. What happened?”

Bill McGee

Retired Nuclear Power Spokesperson

What happened?

A series of local grassroots movements from Franklin County, Massachusetts, Windham County, Vermont and Rockingham County, New Hampshire began organizing to oppose nuclear power, its high costs for the environment and for electric utility customers. By 1976 these local movements joined together in the New England-wide Clamshell Alliance and began training each other in nonviolent civil disobedience and community organizing. The first occupations of the Seabrook nuclear construction site gained national attention and inspired similar movements throughout the United States.

 

  • By 1979 this young movement took it to Wall Street to demand that the financial industry divest from nuclear power.
  • By 1980 many members of the movement turned their attention to the nuclear arms race and Town Meetings in Vermont and New Hampshire were the first to vote in favor of a nuclear freeze.
  • By 1982 more than a million people marched to the United Nations in Manhattan to end nuclear madness.

 

US plans to build 1,000 new nuclear power plants by the year 2000 were soon cancelled. The first operating nuke to be shut down in 1992 was the Yankee Atomic plant in Rowe, Massachusetts, on the border of Readsboro, Vermont. Others soon followed.

All this was accomplished not through mere protests but by carefully planned and organized campaigns at the most local level.

The No Nukes Oral History Project has so far interviewed more than 100 veterans of this successful social movement and digitalized more than 200 pounds of documents about it for a book and an online archive. You can read the sample chapter here. This website will be the home of this free library of original source materials so that the No Nukes movement’s strategy, tactics and the stories of its participants can be preserved and told to new generations of change makers.

 


In September and October of this year, we’ll be in Vermont documenting the struggle in those years to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Drop us a line at nonukeshistory@gmail.com
and we’ll come to your door to record your story.

 

The project is supported by the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Please consider supporting the work via this link.

Successful social movements don’t happen every day. This story is about a cause that was won. Learning how that happened can help other movements be more successful. In New England this story is part of our regional history. It’s time for the story to be told in the voices of those who made it happen.

 


OUR ONLINE LIBRARY WILL INCLUDE HUNDREDS OF HISTORIC PRESS CLIPPINGS LIKE THIS ONE:

 

On September 23, 1979 the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance called for a nonviolent occupation of the state’s lone nuclear plant. The 179 arrests clogged the state’s court system when most demonstrators refused to post bail (many also gave comical pseudonyms: Renny Cushing gave the name and address of the CEO of the Public Service Company of New Hampshire, one of the plant’s owners). The VYDA soon turned to a community organizing strategy to turn tri-state public opinion against the nuke.

 


 

Photos, news clippings, pamphlets, posters, memos, minutes and organizing documents, nonviolence training manuals, video and audio recordings and other materials from the grassroots No Nukes movements of New England and the United States.

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YEARS OF THIS STORY

1973-1982

“THOSE FEW STEPS BY 18 PEOPLE DOWN THOSE TRAIN TRACKS MARKED THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF NUCLEAR POWER IN THE UNITED STATES.”   

–  SUKIE RICE
NONVIOLENCE TRAINER, CLAMSHELL ALLIANCE

We invite you to sign up for the mailing list to receive an alert each time we upload new stories and archives here.

And if you were part of or eyewitness to this movement in the years 1973 to 1982 we want to hear your story too so that your voice will be included in this history.

In September and October of this year, we’ll be in Vermont documenting the struggle in those years to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Drop us a line at nonukeshistory@gmail.com and we’ll come to your door to record your story.

The project is supported by the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Please consider supporting the work via this link.

Successful social movements don’t happen every day. This story is about a cause that was won. Learning how that happened can help other movements be more successful. In New England this story is part of our regional history. It’s time for the story to be told in the voices of those who made it happen.


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