Hundreds rallied in front of the San Onofre nuclear reactors on Sunday, March 11th, in commemoration of the disaster exactly one year ago at the Fukushima plant in Japan. And two speakers from Japan addressed the crowd and expressed appreciation for Americans’ solidarity during the warm afternoon near a cliff just off the Pacific.
Organized by local peace and anti-nuke groups, such as the Peace Resource Center in San Diego, and sponsored by a variety of progressive organizations, the rally was the largest demonstration at the San Onofre nukes in years. Protests against nuclear power were more widespread in the 1980’s, and the site just south of San Clemente has been the target of such protests over the decades.
By 1:00 three hundred people had gathered on a dusty opening just south of the reactors, which were clearly in view through the scrub brush that covered the area. Some wore white protective suits as a symbol of the radiation dangers inherent in nuclear power. After a prayer led by a representative from a local native tribe, speakers reminded the assembly of the dangers of nuclear power, and how San Onofre was not safer than the Fukushima’s generators.
One speaker described how protesters “were 100% in solidarity with the employees of San Onofre” as they had caused both reactors to be shut down for safety reasons. The company running the plant “loses $1 million a day per reactor”.
Two speakers from Japan – a man and a woman – also spoke to the crowd – through a Japanese-American woman from Oakland. Although not from Fukushima, they live within 50 or so miles of it and did represent those in Japan who have been galvanized by the disaster a year ago. They spoke of the ignorance and confusion that Japanese people have right now due to the government and industry’s lies, misrepresentations, and deceptions. “We don’t have access to internet information like the American people do”, one said through the interpreter.
They said that Americans had the Three Mile Island nuclear incident that helped people here wake up to the dangers of nuclear power, after which the anti-nuke movement exploded – and the Japanese speakers expressed solidarity with it. This pleased the crowd and these reps from our former World War Two adversary reflected the coming together of two peoples united by the dangers they shared.
After the Occupellas sang traditional songs with humorous anti-nuke lyrics, another speaker told of how there were 30 to 40,000 tons of spent fuel buried at the site. This elicited groans from the audience.
“San Onofre needs to be shut down!” one woman speaker yelled. The crowd agreed and applauded.
The rally ended, and people drifted back to their cars and buses. Some were pleased with the turn-out – while others were disappointed hoping for thousands. Yet, it was the largest rally at the site in a long time.
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