A spring of anti-nuclear events

People concerned about the risk of nuclear power and the threat of nuclear war -- their apprehensions reinforced in the past year by the Three Mile Island incident and the crises in Afghanistan and Iran -- are planning a number of anti-nuclear events this spring.

Next week, anti-nuclear activities of one sort or another -- candlelight vigils, teach-ins, speeches, outdoor concerts -- will be held in 50 cities around the United States.

The "main event," say anti-nuclear leaders, is planned for April 26: a "massive" march on Washington. Two days after the march, plans call for a large group of demonstrators to stage "nonviolent civil disobedience" at the Department of Energy and the Pentagon.

Ban-the-bomb groups have been active since after World War II. Forces against nuclear power have been gathering momentum throughout the 1970s, with Three Mile Island as the focus.

"Our work was well under way before Three Mile Island," says Leslie Cagan, an anti-nuclear power/anti-nuclear weapons activist."But there's no doubt that a lot of people were highly motivated by Three Mile Island. Then everybody was hearing Afghanistan, and world leaders were taking openly about nuclear war."

The group she represents, Coalition for a Non-Nuclear World, is trying to drive home the point that there is a link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power and that banning both is the answer.

In the year after the Three Mile Island accident, more than 300 organizations -- from the Solar Lobby to the Gray Panthers -- have joined the nonnuclear coalition. It is now the umbrella protest organization of the anti-nuclear forces.

The coalition is seeking an end to construction of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, assurance of stable energy supplies, an increase of employment through solar power and conservation, and an end to the mining of uranium on US Indian lands. The anti-draft issue also is becoming entwined in the anti-nuclear cause.

The organizing, coalition-building, and protest rallies of the past year have not yet translated into any signficant electoral successes for the anti-nuclear forces. California Gov. Edmund G. brown Jr. has made opposition to nuclear power a key in his campaign for the dEmocratic presidential nomination. Although his lack of success cannot be directly attributed to his anti-nuclear stance, it clealy has not helped him.

Meanwhile, pro-nuclear advocates have been conducting a strong public relations campaign in the past year. Most utility companies that operate nuclear plants intend to hold news conferences in coming months to explain improvements in their operations since the Three Mile Island accident.

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