Civil disobedience at Three Mile Island vigil

Protesters gather for a vigil outside the north gate of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County. (Tim Lambert/WITF)

Protesters gather for a vigil outside the north gate of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Londonderry Township, Dauphin County. (Tim Lambert/WITF)

This article appeared on StateImpact.

A small group of protesters have gathered outside the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Dauphin County — on the 40th anniversary of the partial meltdown of the facility’s Unit 2 reactor.

A moment of silence was held along with a symbolic act of civil disobedience.

Numbering less than two dozen, they held candles and signs as they stood on public property — mere feet from a yellow line marking the entrance to the north gate of the plant in Londonderry Township.

At 3:52a.m., they bowed their heads in remembrance of the exact time of the nation’s worst nuclear accident.

Moments later, activist Gene Stilp crossed the line and kept backing up until he was arrested by two state troopers.

“The only thing that separates civil disobedience from the obedient is that yellow line, drawn by the utility right here,” he said. “So, sometimes you have to teach the younger generation that they have to come out and cross a line to make a point. It’s important to do.”

Two state troopers arrest activist Gene Stilp, who crossed the line and onto Three Mile Island’s private property. (Tim Lambert/WITF)

Paula Kinney, who lives in Middletown and within the five-mile radius of the plant, has been a fixture at these events. This is her 39th year of participating to show the world she’s not a statistic.

“We’re real people out here, with families, grandchildren, husbands, wives, cousins and friends,” she said. “Please keep that in mind.”

She calls a proposed bailout of the nuclear industry under consideration at the state Capitol absurd.

The protesters were joined by several women from Japan who survived the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011 after a major earthquake and tsunami.

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