Nora Bredes, 60; led effort to stop N.Y. nuclear plant

By Dennis Hevesi
New York Times / August 25, 2011

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NEW YORK - Nora Bredes, the primary organizer of the grass-roots campaign that kept the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island from opening in the 1980s - a campaign that prompted the plant to become known, in the words of the local power authority, as “America’s first stillborn reactor’’ - died Aug. 18 in Rochester. She was 60 and lived in Pittsford, N.Y.

The cause was cancer, said her son Nathan.

At a public hearing on emergency evacuation plans for the Shoreham plant, Ms. Bredes held up a photograph of Nathan, then 2 years old.

“Along with all the other evidence you collect and weigh, you should weigh this,’’ she told the officials. “It argues that Shoreham shouldn’t be opened, and it reminds you what you are risking if you allow it to operate.’’

Ms. Bredes pulled together more than two dozen local groups that opposed the Long Island Lighting Company’s plan, first announced in 1965, to build the plant.

She lobbied local, state, and federal officials; organized advertising campaigns; wrote pamphlets; and planned rallies.

When the coalition campaign started in 1979, three county legislators opposed the plant. In 1983, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution, 15 to 1, declaring that the county could not be safely evacuated in the event of a nuclear disaster.

On Feb. 28, 1989, Governor Mario M. Cuomo and the utility signed an agreement to shutter the plant. In 1992, Shoreham became the nation’s first commercial nuclear power plant to be dismantled.

That year, Ms. Bredes was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature, representing much of the East End of Long Island. She lost a 1996 bid for a seat in Congress and later moved upstate to become director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester.

Nora Louise Bredes was born in Huntington, on Long Island.

She graduated from Cornell in 1974 and was attending graduate school at Teachers College at Columbia in 1979 when she became involved in the antinuclear movement.

Her son Nathan said she told him the nuclear disaster in Japan this year “was exactly what they were trying to avoid on Long Island.’’