Clamshell Alliance

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Fifth Estate # 284, July, 1977

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The Clamshell Alliance and more than 20 anti-nuclear organizations around the country plan a major shift in tactics in their opposition to nuclear power plants. Angered by the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the cooling system of the nuclear plant at Seabrook, New Hampshire, the Clamshell Alliance says the era of fighting nuclear power in the courts is over. Direct action, civil disobedience and site occupation will take its place.

As Clamshell spokesman Harvey Wasserman told Earth News, “It turns out that the Seabrook Plant also sits on an earthquake fault. If they are willing to build on earthquake faults and install cooling systems as bad as the one at the Seabrook plant, then we have to admit that under the circumstances there is no more legal recourse for stopping nuclear power plants. This is the beginning of what is obviously a national campaign for direct action against nuclear power plants.”

Wasserman says that while Clamshell will continue in its commitment to nonviolence, those opposed to nuclear power will now put their bodies on the line. He says they will try to gather enough people at Seabrook “to occupy the site until we have enough so that we can take control of it.” He pointed out that organizers hope for as many as 100,000 people to march on the site of a fast breeder reactor in France this summer.

The direct action will begin with demonstrations at nuclear installations in New England August 6th through 9th. The Abalone Alliance will stage a demonstration at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant at San Luis Obispo in California on August 7. More demonstrations will take place in Sweden on September 10 and on Long Island in New York on September 17.

Wasserman concludes, “In light of what is now happening around the country, it’s not unlikely that this White House decision to approve the Seabrook plant will bring on a period of domestic turmoil over the nuclear issue similar in scope and depth to that which surrounded the war in Vietnam.”

Also, many of the so-called “heavies” of the antiwar movement of the ’60s and early ’70s are uniting once again to organize nationwide demonstrations against nuclear power and the worldwide nuclear arms race. More than 100 peace activists—including David Dellinger, Sidney Peck, Daniel Ellsberg and Daniel Berrigan—met in Philadelphia two months ago to map out a mass demonstration strategy against nuclear power.

The anti-nuclear proposal is scheduled to be kicked off with a press conference in Washington, D.C., and Japan on August 6th, the 32nd anniversary of the Hiroshima atom bomb. After that, there will reportedly be anti-nuclear actions across the U.S., beginning in March of next year and culminating in a mass mobilization in New York in May of 1978, when the United Nations is holding its disarmament conference there.

While it’s good to see the beginnings of a mass mobilization against nukes, let us remember well the experiences of the anti-war movement, in which many of the personalities mentioned in this story figured prominently. The Clamshell’s avowed adherence to pacifism and the collection of “biggies” setting the stage are the worst aspects of mass demonstrations, not the best.

Already a gaggle of leftists is gearing up their machinery to attempt to create a top-down manipulated movement. All of us are way overdue to move back into action against the abuses of this system. But let’s make sure that we are controlling the action this time and not the self-appointed leaders.

— Information from Earth News & Zodiac News Service

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