The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. We gathered on the steps of San Francisco's Federal Building to talk about what that means. The crowd wasn't much. I wasn't until I got close, saw friends and heard the sound system I was sure I was in the right place. Then I started tuning in on the speakers. Here is what I saw.


Mokai was singing when I started paying attention. Maybe the song was Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind. Maybe it was something original. Then he said a few words about what a threat to life Chernobyl and Fukushima are.

The guy from Poor Magazine talked about finding documentary proof in the minutes of the NRC proceedings that in many cases the people regulating the nuclear industry are just mouthing words piped to them by their staffs. Sometimes they don't even care what's going on.

Carol showed us this book she had written more than twenty years ago that explained what an insidious problem to fight nuclear radiation is. She explained how radiation exposure manifests itself as different kinds of health problems that seem unrelated. She said it is up to all of us to keep the nuclear industry from poisoning our planet.


Don is gathering signatures on a letter that asks California to not relicense Diablo Canyon and San Onofre for twenty more years. He invited all of us to sign on now or submit letters later asking the regulators not to approve PG&E's request for a license extension.

The guy with the stuffed toy told us that Roo the Kangaroo loves us, and he wants us all to be happy.


Steve from the labor movement said that they are having a protest of the cover-up of nuclear radiation coming from inside and outside the USA. He asked "Why they are suddenly so quiet about the radiation from Fukushima?" and "How come they aren't talking about the Metropolis Honeywell Nuclear Processing Facility in Illinois that had to be shut down because it was too radioactive for humans to be safe on the site?" He gave out copies of the press release about it. Click his picture to see that.

Craig from NIRS said that one million people have died because of the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl. He hopes that in the future we will make wiser choices on the subject.

David said that nuclear power is a complete fraud, held up only by large political contributions from the nuclear industry. He explained that no insurance company on the planet is willing to insure a nuclear power plant because of the disasters we've already experienced. He pointed out that rather than figure out how to store the waste successfully, we have instead foisted off the problem on our children as yet another unfunded liability.

Gerard said that what the Russian Govt. is most afraid of is a big fire in the nuclear exclusion zone around Chernobyl. He explained that plant life has been growing amok around Chernobyl, making part of its flesh the nuclear fallout that landed in the vicinity. Sooner or later all that biomass is going to go up in smoke, and when that happens we will have another spreading nuclear cloud similar to the one that started the alarm bells ringing 25 years ago. He predicted that Chernobyl will go on being a problem for hundreds of years.

Don explained that he is worried about nuclear power because as a father and grandfather he has an obligation to pass on the world to his children in as good a shape as possible. Then he sang a song he'd made up for the Fukushima protest he'd attended a week before. It had a bluesy feel and considered some of the similarities and differences between Hiroshima and Fukushima.


Joe from Berkeley thanked everybody for being here. He said that the latest news is that the Japanese government says that it will be nine months before Fukushima is stabilized. Only then will we know how much worse than Chernobyl it really is. Then he pointed out that we now get nuclear fallout every time it rains because of Fukushima. The only part of that we can protect ourselves from is the radioactive iodine. Everything else we are powerless to keep our bodies from absorbing. He finished by pointing out that social change only happens when we take it personally.

The blond said "shutting down nuclear power is a no brainer." She went on to say that participating in the nuclear industry is asking too much of people that haven't been born yet.

"Chernobyl is an ignominious event" was what Jim started with. He explained that as a member of Veterans for Peace, his job is partly to prevent future wars. Since one of the main causes of war is arguing over resources, he is working on more equitable systems. Then he pointed out that nuclear power is expensive, and it's centralized generators make it appealing to police states. He asked "is nuclear power the best way to boil water?" He answered his question by mentioning solar and wind as better power sources. About then a couple of dozen young school kids with a few adults went by, reminding us that not all who are affected by our decisions on nuclear power are yet able to comprehend what's going on.

Fight the power!