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November 21, 2014

Grassroots Activists Leading The Fight For A Nuclear Free Future

Nukes picSusan Corbett, team leader of the Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign, has been a leader in anti-nuclear
activism since the 1970’s. Growing up in South Carolina, the state with the highest dependence on nuclear energy in the US, she was drawn into the anti-nuclear movement when a nuclear plant was built 10 miles from her childhood home.

This past weekend, Corbett joined over 70 other leaders in the anti-nuclear movement, representing over 30 U.S. states, Canada and Japan for The Summit for a Nuclear Free Future in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The Sierra Club’s Nuclear Free Campaign was there in force, along with groups from around the country committed to ending nuclear power.

These leaders met and discussed ending nuclear power, dealing properly with radioactive waste, fighting nuclear industry attacks on clean energy, getting to a nuclear free and carbon free future, and many other nuclear related topics.

“Everyone was so thrilled to be there. We had a packed audience”  said Corbett, noting that at the conclusion of the summit “all participants were saturated with information and willing to fight” against nuclear power.

When asked why about the anti-nuclear movement is important now, Corbett explained that nuclear power is not safe -- with a poor track record made worse by the recent Fukushima disaster.

Furthermore, Corbett notes that “without government subsidies and support for nuclear, it would be too expensive." Nuclear energy “would be priced out of the market without the government propping up the nuclear industry.”

Corbett notes that nuclear energy production creates a host of other problems, like radiation and toxic waste, which are harmful to our environment, our wildlife, and our families. Additionally, nuclear by-products are “harmful and long-lived”.

“We can barely keep a trash container from leaking for 50 years,” said Corbett. “Byproducts can’t be safely isolated for 10,000+ years.”

The activists at the Summit for a Nuclear Free Future are driven by the belief that nuclear energy’s hazardous pollution far outweighs any benefits - and that’s the message they took to Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on two lobby days following their conference.

Corbett met with her Senator Tim Scott, while other participants targeted the EPA, including members of the Navajo tribe who took up the issue of nuclear energy on Native American lands including the Yucca Mountain Waste Repository and uranium mines. Others told the EPA that a proposed increase in what is deemed “acceptable” doses of radiation should be scrapped.

“There is no acceptable level of radiation,” notes Corbett.  “It is harmful to everyone at any level.”

The lobbying push is more important than ever. With a new Congress taking power in January, fears are rising that the House and Senate will attempt to kick start the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and fail to clean up nearly 10,000 uranium mines on Native American lands.

Corbett said that’s why the planning that happened at The Summit for a Nuclear Free Future is so important. Anti-nuclear activists like Corbett and many others are engaged and ready to fight -- armed with the hope for a clean energy future free of dangerous, expensive nuclear energy.

For more information, check out http://www.beyondnuclear.org/ or the facebook https://www.facebook.com/NuclearFreeCampaign.

--Maggie Dunham Jordahl, Sierra Club Media Intern

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