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Environmentalists Protest the Building of a Nuclear Power Plant in Wyhl (1975)

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2. Below the stage, seated in a row, were the expert witnesses for meteorological, hydrological, radiological questions etc.: civil servants, professors, likewise a neutral, value-free, competent authority. It was funny how, behind the gush of scientific terminology, they sang the same refrain in unison: the nuclear power station is not damaging; on the contrary, it is beneficial in every respect. Then, the members of the public laughed, because they knew from countless meetings that these expert witnesses were delivering the desired responses for cash, that they were lying and doing sloppy work to boot. When the nuclear power station in Fessenheim was being planned, the French explained that the wind would blow the cooling tower’s steam eastward, toward Baden. When they got around to Breisach later on, the same scientists were of the opposite opinion: Suddenly, the wind was blowing toward the west . [ . . . ]

3. At the front of the hall, to the left, sat the representatives of the managers, KERNKRAFTWERK SÜD GmbH* and the manufacturer, KRAFTWERKSUNION**, technocrats carted in from Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, and other places, who, looking hassled, approached the hall microphone every now and then to allay, yet again, the concerns of a farmer with hearing problems. The public already knew some of them by name. They knew that they represented profit interests exclusively, yet talked about “supplying” the population. And [they knew] that they had contempt for uneducated people. For these gentlemen had already made an appearance in Breisach in 1972. At that time, however, the government had let the project drop shortly before the state parliamentary elections, since the vintners had threatened to abstain from voting. And in the Wyhl region, Messieurs Braun, Stäbler, and Co. had made a name for themselves at Badenwerk propaganda events ever since the government had chosen Wyhl as the site of the new nuclear power plant on May 14, 1973.

This big, bloated balloon was inflated even further by a squadron of riot police in the basement and “plain clothes informers” who were trying everywhere to eavesdrop to what was said, even when they were sent away.

The cohesiveness of this nuclear power plant front made the public so aggressive that everyone belonging to the disparate heap of power plant opponents was applauded for at least being "one of us."

At the front of the hall, to the right, sat the speakers, environmentalists, mayors, civic action groups. On short notice they had collected 95,000 protest signatures and written long scientific and legal appeals.

The spokespersons for the environmental groups (students, professors, teachers, physicians) were likewise familiar to the public, known as opponents of the technocrats.

[ . . . ]

* KERNKRAFTWERK SÜD GmbH: a subsidiary of Badenwerk – trans.
** KRAFTWERKSUNION: AEG and Siemens – trans.

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