Generating controversy: The Shoreham nuclear power plant via Newsday

The nuclear power plant built in Shoreham was initially sold as a solution for a power-hungry Island, a safe and economical source of electricity that would light 500,000 homes and last for several decades. The LILCO project instead generated intense controversy.

An estimated 15,000 people rallied in a driving rainstorm outside Shoreham’s gates on June 3, 1979, in what was then believed to be the biggest demonstration of any kind in Long Island history. Before the protest was over, 571 people were peacefully arrested. In the years after the protest, questions about the plant’s safety and its ballooning costs led to a state takeover of the Long Island Lighting Co. and the decommissioning of the plant. LIPA, which owns the property and operates a substation and other power facilities there, continues to express interest in redeveloping the site. But despite occasional calls to convert it for other uses, the property’s future remains uncertain.

The plant’s legacy included $6 billion in debt related to its closure and LIPA taking over LILCO, with $1 billion left to be paid, and vivid memories of a demonstration that captivated the Island on June 3, 1979.

The young and old were among an estimated 15,000 anti-nuclear protesters who rallied in a driving rainstorm outside Shoreham’s gates on June 3, 1979. Molly Schmitt, 6, of Amagansett, uses her forehead to get her point across at the southeast gate of the nuclear plant.

After years of controversy, the Shoreham nuclear power plant was ordered closed on May 25, 1988. It was fully decommissioned in 1994. While few go there today, more than 15,000 rallied at the site on June 3, 1979.

Read more and see the photos at Generating controversy: The Shoreham nuclear power plant

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