A group of around 50 protestors, accompanied by a small marching band and a large, mock nuclear waste cask, carried signs from Pritchard Park to the Federal Building late Friday afternoon, July 15. Their message: nuclear waste is not welcome traveling on area roadways, nor in a repository once proposed for north Buncombe County.
Organized by the local groups Katuah Earth First!, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Mountain Protectors Campaign, New South Network of War Resisters, and the local office of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, participants gathered at Pritchard Park around 4 p.m. and, as the band played on, marched to the Federal Building. After posing for photos and onlookers there, they walked back up Patton Avenue to the obelisk at Pack Square, where they installed themselves for maximum visibility to passersby. Passing vehicles honked their horns, eliciting whoops and calls in response.
Around 5 p.m., a flash-mob performance was launched in multiple locations around the square, as the signal came to group leaders via cell phones. Flash-mob participants promptly fell to the ground in mock death and remained motionless as a group member covered the “dead” with white sheets emblazoned with the international symbol of radioactivity. The “dead” included men, women and children.
As the mock waste cask circulated on adjacent streets, participants chatted with onlookers about the prospect of exposure to high levels of radiation from nuclear-waste material traveling on area roadways, especially if a proposed high-level waste reprocessing center is established in South Carolina.
For more on the past, present and future of nuclear waste in WNC, see the article “A glowing report?”, also in print in July 13, 2011 Xpress.
Photos by Jerry Nelson