In Vermont & Georgia, is there Power to the People?

Save The Date: Sunday October 29 - 3:30 
Power Struggle - Film House - Burlington, VT
By Maggie Gundersen & Ben Shulman-Reed


Power Struggle is coming to the Vermont International Film Festival!

Filmed during the 5-year timespan the action was occurring, this feature-length documentary by filmmaker Robbie Leppzer highlights the heated politics involved in the state-wide community effort to close the aged Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic power reactor. The film chronicles the unfolding drama as citizen activists and elected officials – alarmed at ever increasing safety violations at VY – take on the federal government and one of the biggest nuclear power corporations in America demanding the closure of the reactor at the expiration of its original 40-year license.

Capturing the personal journey of nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and his wife former nuclear industry spokesperson Maggie Gundersen through the backdrop of the nuclear industry, the film intertwines different perspectives on all sides of the nationwide controversy about the use of atomic power. Power Struggle features many different protagonists including local residents both for and against atomic power, elected officials, a Vermont Yankee spokesperson, federal nuclear regulators, and leaders for the environmental protection of Vermont’s pristine and limited resources.

This film is a timely and inspirational story of democracy in action! Should citizens’ voices be heard against moneyed corporate interests? What are people in Vermont doing right now to make a difference for a sustainable energy future?

Please join everyone following the film for a panel discussion moderated by journalist David Goodman and including:

  • Film director Robbie Leppzer founder of Turning Tide Productions,
  • Fairewinds Energy Education chief engineer Arnie Gundersen and Fairewinds founder Maggie Gundersen;
  • Former Vermont State Representative Tony Klein had a lengthy career in the Vermont Legislature protecting Vermont’s environment. Former Representative Klein served as Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources during increasing mismanagement and environmental concerns at Vermont Yankee;
  • Chris Williams, of the Vermont Citizens Action Network, has spent more than 40-years standing up against atomic power reactors and their corporate owners in Indiana, Michigan, and Vermont as he has fought for the rights of citizens to have a say in how their energy is produced, paid for, and how nuclear waste is disposed.
  • Clay Turnbull is a member of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution (NEC) Board of Trustees. NEC is intervening at the Vermont Public Utilities Commission on the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee by Entergy to NorthStar for VY’s decommissioning.  NEC is against NorthStar’s proposal to use rubblization and burial of 1 million plus cubic feet of contaminated concrete on the shores of the Connecticut River.
  • The event will be followed by a Reception in the lobby at 6:15pm. 


Tickets must be purchased and are available online at:

More info at: 

 Fairewinds in the News:

Fairewinds in the News Banner Updated.jpg

Vogtle - End of the Nuclear Renaissance:

As the United States (US) energy economy entered the 21st century, the atomic power industry declared that this century would be the beginning of an alleged Nuclear Renaissance. In response utilities and energy corporations placed orders for 30 brand new allegedly ‘safer and more modern reactors’ named the AP1000.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was so convinced that the Nuclear Renaissance would occur that it built a brand new mega-office building to hold all the extra staff the NRC anticipated it would need to regulate these new reactor designs.  Colleges and universities around the country also ramped up their nuclear engineering degree programs in anticipation.

Now all but two of those 30 proposed nukes have been cancelled.  All preliminary preparations were over budget, behind schedule, not cost competitive compared to renewables, and then due to conservation and new digital components, the electric demand simply failed to materialize.  The Nuclear Renaissance is now dead except for two lone plants called Vogtle 3 and 4 near Waynesboro, Georgia.  Although the ongoing construction and operation of these two Georgia atomic power reactors makes absolutely no economic sense, they continue to be supported and moved forward by a pro-nuclear Georgia Public Service Commission that has the two plants on life support.

Using federally funded loan guarantees and forcing current ratepayers to pay for these outmoded nukes in their current electric bills years before they will ever, generate electricity, the Georgia ‘good ole boys’ continue to support the business interests of their cronies instead of their own constituents: the citizens of Georgia. 

While these cost overruns have made national headlines, no one seems to be asking the important question: are these atomic power plants – which were first designed more than 20-years ago –even safe to operate if they should ever be completed?  For the past eight years, Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen has worked with environmental groups all around the southeastern US in their campaigns that prove this AP1000 reactor design simply is not safe. Bottom line:  Not only is Vogtle too expensive, but the AP1000 reactor is simply not safe to operate if it is ever completed. 

In August, Arnie and Maggie were invited by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) to present this material showing the inherent risks of the AP1000 reactor to citizens’ groups gathered in Decatur, Georgia (GA) adjacent to the DeKalb County Courthouse and as an invited guest speaker at Paine College in Augusta, GA.  Listen now! 

Watch The Slides Here

We hope you took the opportunity to download Arnie Gundersen and Marco Kaltofen’s peer-reviewed journal article at no cost! 

It is still available via the attached link, but if it is for academic or for personal use only – remember no derivatives or publishing.

As you will learn in subsequent months, the STOTEN research is even more pertinent following Arnie and Marco’s trip to Japan.

The environmental journal: Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN) published a groundbreaking peer-reviewed scientific report authored by Arnie Gundersen and Marco Kaltofen.  

Since its release, the peer-reviewed journal article by Arnie and Marco has been phenomenally well-received online, and now awaits its physical print release next week. In less than six weeks, Altmetric, a software tool that tracks scientific journal reads has noticed the article’s incredible reach. 

Altmetric has tracked 8,157,279 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.

About the Paper: Since the meltdown six years ago, Fairewinds and Dr. Marco Kaltofen with WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) have conducted detailed analysis on crowd-sourced scientific samples for this cutting edge research. The samples analyzed showed that radioactive hot particles from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns are still contaminating Japan.  Arnie and Marco returned to Japan September 2017 for several weeks to continue their radioactive research and educational work with scientists in Japan who organize and conduct this crowd-sourced scientific sampling effort.

Here is the link to this fundamental study conducted by Arnie and Marco: You may also follow links on this press release to the actual journal article and to the Fairewinds Energy Education website for all supplemental materials as well as an interactive map.

Fairewinds would not be where we are today without your past support, please help us move into tomorrow and beyond by donating today so that we may continue this vital work. You may donate to our general educational efforts or specifically to the Japan Project. Detailed science like Fairewinds Japan Project needs ongoing funds to continue its research, analysis, and educational programming.

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