Still a Victory
Diablo Canyon lies in central California, 200 km North along the coast from Los Angeles. The narrow coast is bordered by a mountain reef, cut by the St Andreas fault line, which caused the earthquake in San Francisco in 1989 and all the earthquakes in Los Angeles and southern California since. Diablo Canyon is a beautiful place, visited by many tourists and anglers, it is not industrially polluted and barely inhabited. In 1968, the American government decided to build a nuclear power plant with two reactors here.
During the 70s, Diablo Canyon became a center of the American anti nuclear movement. The protest against the power plant grew into one of the most important campaigns against nuclear energy in the USA. The fight against Diablo Canyon lasted for over 10 years. Direct actions (blockades of thousands, continuous trespasses to the plant site, etc) took place in the last years, after a network of activists supported by locals was formed.
The most important and first step was to supply people with information, explain the connections and then encourage them to form local active groups. The strategy was based on forming small local groups, building coalitions of affinity groups (farmers, environmentalist, tourists, anglers, political parties, civic associations, etc.), making legal steps to slow down the construction, creating a state-wide network of anti-nuclear movements, media campaigns, etc. When enough political strength had been built, direct actions started to happen.
Due to well-planned resistance networks, the movement was able to organise and sustain long term blockades. Hundreds of seminars at many places were made by activists for people who wanted to take part in direct actions. As a response, about 500 small groups were formed (groups of 10-15 people with natural relations - like friends, school mates, colleagues from work, etc.)
With the agreement of local farmers, protest camps of more than 2 000 people were constructed near the plant building site. The locals were informed in advance so they could supply participants of the camp with food. Many allowed protestors to use their phones and, on occasion, some even lent cars and vans. The local police got to know the participants quickly and friendships were formed. Many different actions occurred: marches, sea cruises along the power plant, etc. Most of the groups were blocking all gates to the building site. Some people got into the site by hiding themselves underneath the entering trains. Actions of this sort happened for six years. Thousands and thousands of people were being imprisoned and jails in the neighbourhood towns were getting full. The protesters knew what they were doing - they were taking moral responsibility by demonstrating their love for nature and a wish to live in a non- polluted environment
They managed to get the sympathy of the public because they stayed non-violent and didn't let themselves be provoked to violence. When the jails were filled, blockade participants were held in schools, gyms and other town's buildings. Police had to set them free quickly and they went immediately back to the site
The nuclear power plant was finished and is still on- line today. Nevertheless, it wasn't a loss of the anti-nuke movement - but a victory. Diablo Canyon was the last nuclear power plant to be finished in the USA. Thanks to the actions and court cases, its construction took 10 years to finish which made it 12 times more expensive. The Environmental Impacts Analysis (EIA), also played an important role by releasing study results which forced the plant investor to change the whole project. An emergency plan had to be made. The concrete walls had to be thickened and a special mechanism had to be developed so that the water used for cooling was not too hot when it returned to the ocean. Changes like these cost so much that no one dared again to build another nuclear power plant. Furthermore, some already under construction were halted. Diablo Canyon was a success. Ever since then, NO nuclear power plants have been built in the US
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