About 900 anti-nuclear demonstrators rallied in the rural wooded hills of central Virginia today to demand that the Virginia Electric Power Company's North Anna power plant here be shut down.
Baking under the hot sun that they are promoting as an alternative energy source, the demonstrators gathered at a local drive-in theater just outside the county seat of Louisa County, about 80 miles southwest of Washington.They heard speakers and musicians attack the use of nuclear power in general and the existence and management of the North Anna facility in particular.
On Sunday at noon a smaller group, estimated at between 100 and 150 people, will attempt a civil disobedience "occupation" of the power plant site with the expectation of being arrested once they set foot on VEPCO propery. Coordinators of the protest, whose participants are camping out near the plant tonight, have promised it will be nonviolent.
"The American public is the only force that can stop nuclear power," said Michou Kaku, a physics professor at New York University. He was featured speaker at today's rally, one of 45 such demonstrations held around the country this weekend.
Calling the problem at nuclear power plants "a movie return" of the film, "China Syndrome," Kaku said the facilities" are put together with scotch tape and string." He also read some excerpts of documents that he said outlined 1,000 construction defests at the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island.
Protesters carried banners that attacked nuclear power and proclaimed, "There is no peaceful atom." One demonstrator held a "VEPCO is Vile" sign.
Organizers of the demonstration, coordinated by eight anti-nuclear and environmental groups under the single-name Virginia Sunshine Alliance, said they hoped to step up their campaign to close all the nation's power plants.
Although the demonstrations included a local group, Louisa Citizens for Safe Economical Energy, most of the county's residents and local officials have lauded the plant's pressence and welcome its boost to the county's economy. Protesters, however, said Vepco could - and should - create new jobs for residents by developing other energy options.
Despite similarities in style and tactics reminiscent of the anti-war protests of the 1960s, organizers of the rally said they resented the comparison.
A specific target of today's demonstration was the transportation of nuclear waste, the radioactive "leftovers" of the power generating facilities.*