Synthesis/Regeneration 9   (Winter 1996)

Activists Vow to Occupy Ground Zero

by Shaun Stenshol, Earth First!, Nuclear Free Planet

People all around the world are protesting the resumption of French nuclear testing, including tests at the sites on Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls in the South Pacific. A "Peace Flotilla" with as many as 27 boats has been at the test site since August, 1995. Some of these boats have been seized by the French government. As of this writing (in late 1995), four Greenpeace ships are still under siege.

...when France decided to resume blowing up nuclear bombs, I decided that I had to do something about it.

This past June, when France decided to resume blowing up nuclear bombs, I decided that I had to do something about it. In August, I flew to Tahiti to join the protests and tried to get on one of the many boats that went to the French site. I was unable to find a boat that could take me because there were so many people going that the boats were overcrowded.

So, after spending three weeks there, I decided to come back to the US to organize a boat to leave from the Los Angeles area. Other Earth First! activists and I have formed an anti-nuclear action team called Nuclear Free Planet (NFP) and we are preparing the ship, Chirac's Folly, to infiltrate the test site. We are training and being outfitted for underwater camouflage with the goal of performing non-violent witness at ground zero/time zero (i.e., nuclear detonation) during 1996.

I got seriously interested in protesting nuclear weapons in 1991 after going to a demonstration at the US nuclear test site in Nevada. I met some atomic veterans who had devastating stories to tell about their families' direct exposure to atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1940s and '50s.

When we went back to the test site in 1992, a friend and I were so disgusted with continued nuclear bomb testing that we decided to hike into the test site, find ground zero, and simply delay the detonation with our presence. We didn't quite make it to ground zero. But during 1992, I led or participated in seven other ground zero actions including one in which I rode a bicycle 50 miles all night over rough terrain and reached the bomb at t-minus nine minutes, temporarily stopping the test. In September, 1992, four Belgian citizens and I made it to within 3000 yards of the bomb when it detonated, even though the government was aware of our presence.

So now it's time to head to the South Pacific and help end nuclear testing once and for all. We need equipment for this long and difficult journey. You can help by sending any of the items listed below, boycotting French products, writing protest letters to President Clinton and French President Chirac, or organizing your own boat. Stop Nuclear Testing Now!

We need inflatable boats, outboard motors, water-proof gear, cash donations, food, solar panels and batteries, and electronic equipment (radios, video camera, still camera, etc.) Donations are tax deductible.

Editor's Note: When described in several California magazines and newspapers during Fall, 1995, Stenshol's plan received positive responses, including offers of boats and skipper services.

Contact Shaun Stenshol, Nuclear Free Planet, P.O. Box 492, Lancaster, CA 93584, or call 805-948-6291.

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