The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) held the demonstration ahead of the 78th Anniversary of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The group marched from Alvin K. Bissell Park to the Y-12 National Security Complex.
Tanvi Kardile, coordinator of OREPA, said they are an anti-violence grassroots organization.
“We work against development of nuclear weapons, we fight against Y-12 which is still producing weapons to this day and we want to spread public awareness about what they’re doing out there,” she said.
The group’s demonstration aimed to support nuclear abolition in the United States.
“We came here to talk about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is the only viable treaty that’s currently on the path to end nuclear weapons. The U.S. has not signed onto this treaty yet, so we’re here to spread public awareness about that,” Kardile said.
The treaty was passed by 122 nations in June 2017, and now has 68 signatory states parties as of 2023.
The anniversary of the bombings comes shortly after the release of the movie “Oppenheimer,” which the group hopes will help bring attention to their cause.
“The movie ‘Oppenheimer’ goes into a lot of detail about things that were happening at that time, but one of the things that was not taken into account was the effect of nuclear radiation. some things were known at the time, much more has been learned,” President of OREPA Ann Myers said.
She added the development of the nuclear bomb is still affecting Americans today.
“There are still people out in the west part of our country that were exposed to radiation during the Trinity test, which was featured in the movie ‘Oppenheimer,’ they have not been compensated at all by our government,” Myers said.
Along with showing support for the treaty, the group also wanted to show support for the victims of the bombings in Japan.
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“We want people internationally to know that we care,” Myers said.
WATE obtained a statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration:
“First and foremost, we support the rights of every American to express their opinions through peaceful protests. The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance held a brief protest Saturday afternoon and this morning near the entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex. Our goals are always to ensure the safety of the public and to protect the plant, which is vital to national security.”
The group has two more demonstrations planned for Sunday and Wednesday.
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated with the recent statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration.