U.S. anti-nuclear activists and community members force closure of Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, 1976-1989

 

In 1965 Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) president John J. Tuomy announced the intent to open a nuclear power plant in East Shoreham on Long Island New York at LILCO’s annual shareholders' meeting. Construction on the site commenced in 1973.

In 1976 local residents held their first protest against the construction of the Shoreham Plant, but details of this action are difficult to ascertain. About this time however, Nora Bredes and other local mothers began voicing specific concerns about the community’s health at local county meetings.

In 1976, following the model of the New England Clamshell Alliance, the Sound-Hudson Against Atomic Development Alliance or the SHAD Alliance, organized some 20 local antinuclear groups in the New York Area and began holding sessions and sending out publications on the dangers of nuclear power.

In the first SHAD congress in 1978 members decided that the Shoreham Reactor would be the focus of the regional campaign.

After the near meltdown of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Reactor in Pennsylvania in March 1979, SHAD membership grew. In June of that year SHAD hosted a rally and march at the construction site of the Shoreham Plant. Organizers planned the event in conjunction with an International Antinuclear Day, and actions were held around the world.

Approximately 15,000 protesters marched at the June 4, 1979 rally. Members of SHAD and dozens of local groups attended. After speeches and music by folk singer and activist Pete Seeger on a nearby beach, activists marched to the construction site. Some 600 protesters climbed the Shoreham fence and were arrested for trespassing. A smaller group of 20 destroyed the hinges on the main gate and threw debris at LILCO employees.

SHAD dismantled in the early 1980s, but local protest of the Shoreham Plant continued. When the SHAD campaign began in 1976 only three county legislators opposed the plant. In 1983, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution 15 to 1 declaring the nuclear disaster evacuation plan inadequate.

In 1981, 43 percent of Long Island residents opposed the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. By 1986 74 percent of Long Island residents opposed the plant.

Local residents continued to attend meetings and distribute fliers against the Shoreham Plant. Nora Bredes and the Shoreham Opponents Coalition remained particularly active in disseminating information and demanding political accountability.

On February 28, 1989, New York governor Mario M. Cuomo agreed with the Suffolk County Legislature and announced that the Shoreham Nuclear Plant must close. The governor and LILCO signed an agreement to shutter the plant, increasing taxes on Long Island residents to cover the $6 billion dollar costs of construction. In 1992, Shoreham was fully dismantled without generating any commercial electricity.