Joyce Hollyday on Dan Berrigan

joycieJoyce Hollyday remembers her friend Dan Berrigan:

I was a young associate editor at Sojourners magazine when Dan Berrigan sent a poem for a special issue sometime in the early 1980s. Accompanying it was a note that read “Here’s the poem—my first on a word processor. Seems a bit jumbled. Might have got a food processor by mistake.” He was not yet a friend, so I wasn’t familiar with the mischievous grin that likely spread across his face as he wrote it.

I had first learned of Dan, his brother Phil and sister-in-law Liz McAlister a decade before. I was a high school senior in Hershey, Pennsylvania—writing papers with such titles as “Stopping Communist Aggression in Vietnam” (well researched from a wide variety of issues of the Reader’s Digest)—while they were on trial thirteen miles away in Harrisburg for their opposition to the war.

I was a searching seminary student at Yale when I first heard Dan speak. It was the day before a Trident submarine, capable of creating multiple nuclear conflagrations more powerful than the one that had destroyed Hiroshima, was launched from the coast of Connecticut. That day Dan joined many others in a public act of resistance and was carted off to jail. I was just beginning to make connections between the gospel and peace and putting faith into action. …–Joyce Hollyday

Read Joyce’s whole essay.

In the Wake of Japan Disaster, Must We Accept Nuclear Power?

The U.S. Navy reported today that it had detected low levels of airborne radiation at the Yokosuka and Atsugi bases, about 200 miles to the north of the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors. They are moving ships out of range.

“While there was no danger to the public, Commander, Naval Forces Japan recommended limited precautionary measures for personnel and their families on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including limiting outdoor activities and securing external ventilation systems as much as practical,” a statement said. “These measures are strictly precautionary in nature. We do not expect that any United States Federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken,” it added.

News reports, scientists, nuclear energy corporate officials, and government spokespersons are reiterating that the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, is not like Chernobyl. It’s more like Three Mile Island. Apparently, this is supposed to allay public concern.

For anyone who lived down-wind of the Three Mile Island reactor when the radioactive core was breached on March 28, 1979, this news is anything but comforting. (Read “In the Valley of the Shadow: Ten Years after the Accident at Three Mile Island” by Joyce Hollyday.)

The arguments made by the nuclear industry today are that huge improvements have been made in the safety and efficiency of nuclear energy production — much of which is true. But the nuclear corporations still have no answer to radioactive waste or the multi-generational devastation to all living creatures when the unforeseeable occurs — as has happened in Japan.

Below, Sojourners reprints a commentary by Vince Books written at the time of the Three Mile Island disaster. Vince actually worked on the construction crew of the plant and eventually became a committed advocate against nuclear power:

The Metropolitan Edison Company (Met-Ed) is proud. Proud of progress on that island. Proud to be helping to solve America’s energy problems. And proud to be splitting atoms, heating water, forcing steam, turning generators, and producing electricity. It is, however, Met-Ed’s other contributions that will long be remembered. These include iodine 131, cesium 137, strontium 90, and plutonium, to be followed perhaps by an assortment of cancers and birth defects. Met-Ed is leaving more than footprints on the sands of time.

The residents of central Pennsylvania are sleeping. Or at least they were when something went terribly wrong out there on Three Mile Island. It was 4 a.m. March 28, 1979. There was a mal-function in the secondary cooling system of Unit 2. More malfunctions followed, and the trouble was compounded by what appeared to be human error. Inside the four-foot thick concrete walls of the containment building the Unit 2 reactor was heating up and beginning to destroy its fuel. A plume of radioactive gas was released. The wind was blowing north. Continue reading “In the Wake of Japan Disaster, Must We Accept Nuclear Power?”