Gloucester Resistance by Jay Gustaferro



by Jay Gustaferro as told to Sharon Tracy


Gloucester resistance to the Seabrook nuke is amazingly broad-based, from ditch diggers to college professors, and even a disillusioned NRC official. One active group was the Fishermen’s Wives Association, formed because the men were out to sea so much of the time and needed a group to speak for their interests. They were astute and energetic, and did an enormous amount of work organizing dinners, fundraising, and lobbying. We put a resolution before the City Council opposing construction of the Seabrook nuke. (On a clear day you can see the site from Cape Ann.)

Back then, Dr. Helen Caldicott, who is originally from Australia, lived in Gloucester. Helen is a charismatic speaker who articulates her deep love for the earth and commitment to humanity in a way that inspires most everyone who hears her. She is a small woman with a powerful presence. One time Guy Chichester said to me, “Sometimes you get to be part of the flow of life to make this world a better place.” Helen was deep in that flow.

A medical expert on the hazards of nukes and radiation, Helen came to testify at the hearing on the resolution. It was standing room only at City Hall, over 500 strong, more than I’ve seen before or since. One particular City Councilor kept rudely questioning Helen’s credentials and threatening to forcibly remove her, summoned the police. Under pressure from the increasingly rowdy crowd, the Councilors called a recess.

I was running around pulling together twenty or so strong people to surround and protect Helen, but with so many people she couldn’t find me. So when the Councilors reconvened and offered Helen an apology, she accepted it. She thought we didn’t want to cause too much of a fuss, although we really did. If the cops had hauled off well-mannered Dr. Caldicott in handcuffs, it would have brought a lot more public attention to the issue.

But the resolution did pass and Gloucester is on record from 1976 opposing the Seabrook nuclear power plant.                                                              


by Sharon Tracy


Jay Gustaferro, a Gloucester lobsterman, many years ago asked what motivated me to activism. “Rage.” I replied, ” At humanity’s possibly irreversible drive to destroy everything I love.” I asked him the same question. “Love,” he responded, “for life.” That conversation permanently changed my perspective.

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