Saturday, May 18, 2013

NRC Meeting about Vermont Yankee: What Wasn't Shown

Tension at the NRC Meeting

The day after the NRC meeting about Vermont Yankee, I wrote a post Mellow Meeting of the NRC in Brattleboro.  Actually, the meeting was only mellow in comparison with last year's meeting: The Politics of Intimidation.  This year, women with Jaczko masks once tried to disrupt the meeting by standing behind the NRC people, chanting and making speeches (photo at left). Once again, the NRC members left the room and then came back into the room.  Once again, the women stood behind the NRC after the NRC came back.

However, the women didn't succeed this year.  Eventually the women sat down and the meeting proceeded.

Eventually, I took action

Um, did I say "eventually?" I should have said something stronger.  The problem is that I don't like to toot my own horn.  But I did take action that helped get the meeting back on track, and it is worth sharing that action with my readers.

At the meeting, the women were chanting, the NRC was trying to talk over them, a man from the audience shouted "It's about Democracy!" and I had personally had enough.  I went up to an open mike that was standing in the middle of the room, and I interrupted the whole thing. I said, quite loudly:

“No, it’s about diversity! It’s about whether people with different opinions and different views and different backgrounds will be allowed to talk at this meeting! Apparently not!

Then I left the microphone. The meeting had grown quiet while I spoke (it was so unexpected) and the police soon persuaded the women to sit down.

I blogged about this incident at ANS Nuclear Cafe: Speaking Out of Turn at the NRC Meeting. On that post, I treasure a comment from a man who was at the meeting and wanted to thank me after the meeting.  Unfortunately,  I was feeling sort of shaky from the strain of doing something like that, and I left the meeting a bit early.

OMG, It Isn't There

A few days later, I found that community TV had recorded the meeting.  I thought: "Oh dear. What did it look like when I went up to that microphone?" I was scared to look at the video, but I needn't have worried.  The incident wasn't there at all.

The TV people apparently felt that the women chanting, the NRC leaving the room and coming back, the NRC trying to talk above the chanting, me making my statement, the police approaching the women..none of that was worth recording.  I don't know how they concluded this: in retrospect, it was all rather dramatic theater. But none of it is on the video.

If you look at the video below, a man from the NRC refers to the incident with some statement like: "if there is more disruption, we will have to take a break."  The video cameras follow the women walking peaceably around the "science fair" part of the meeting and then you see them sitting peaceably in the chairs during the question period.  In the video, you see me and my friend Guy Page (frequent guest blogger) speak to the NRC once the meeting was underway. Our remarks start at about the 11 minute mark on the video.

The TV video makes the situation look darn mellow.  That is not how it happened, my friends.  That is not how it happened.


jimwg said...

And Vermont media has the pious green gonads to call anti-nukers the underdog!

Look, my dad was a NYC Transit cop from way back and so many of his closest friends who regularly dropped by our house so I'm not dumping on the police. I DO wonder about what (anti-nuke? Naw...) powers that be who allowed that circus to cavort behind the NRC speakers while police were in eyeshot of the event. I bet if they tried that crap at a hotel convention or biz session elsewhere in Vermont that their Bozo cans would've been hustled off that stage in two minutes. To hell with PC and "civilly" walking out and caving in -- the event's hosts if not the NCR themselves should've told the cops to do their jobs and enforce freedom of speech, not encourage those stifling it. Sorry, allowing that group of losers free reign to trample over other's rights untouched is one cowardly form of spineless appeasement and I'd love to know who held the cops back -- or didn't have the common sense or sacs to call them. Anti-nuke sentiment trumping basic Constitutional rights sure seems to run high in Vermont -- even to the holier green-than-thou "fair" media up there.

You did right in spades. Meredith. Too bad others in that room severely lacked your brass junk.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Meredith Angwin said...


It is more complicated than that. The NRC spends about $1000 for police protection at the meetings, but the police are to keep people safe, not to prevent demonstrations, etc. Last year, safety was compromised, in my opinion. I would NOT have stepped to the microphone last year. This year was better.

This article by Olga Peters in The Commons, a Brattleboro weekly paper, describes things pretty well.

Prudent Precautions

Meredith Angwin said...

Doesn't look like my link worked, above.

Meredith Angwin said...

Commons article

Anonymous said...

It should not be allowed to happen regardless of any reasons. There is a purpose for these meetings and providing a forum for ridiculous demonstrations is not it. If they want to pull that crap they should take it on the street and be required to get appropriate permits for a parade/demonstration (if local laws require it). The NRC people should make it clear that if there are groups that are going to pull these stunts then the meeeting will be adjourned and the press can take written copies of the safety review.

jimwg said...

Thomas Sowell pretty much says it for me about "demonstrators" and the right for free uncompromised speech.

James Greenidge
Queens NY