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Generating controversy: The Shoreham nuclear power plant

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
Photo Credit: Newsday/David L. Pokress

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.

Symbolically, perhaps, the sun also sets over the
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr

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.

Anti-nuclear protesters climb ladders placed along a fence
Photo Credit: Newsday/Dick Kraus

Anti-nuclear protesters climb ladders placed along a fence on the east side of LILCO 's nuclear power plant at Shoreham, with a cooling tower in background.

Demonstrators link arms before crossing the Wading River
Photo Credit: Newsday/Dick Kraus

Demonstrators link arms before crossing the Wading River to begin their protest at Shoreham.

Some of the first protesters to be arrrested
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

Some of the first protesters to be arrrested at Shoreham sit handcuffed in a police bus. Before the protest was over, 571 people were arrested.

Deane Mowrer, a 73-year-old blind woman, sits patiently
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

Deane Mowrer, a 73-year-old blind woman, sits patiently as others dig a hole under a fence to help enter the LILCO site. Mowrer was among the 571 protesters arrested at the Shoreham protest.

A masked protester walks along the protest route
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

A masked protester walks along the protest route at the LILCO plant in Shoreham as others, carrying umbrellas, follow.

Former Chicago Seven defendants Jerry Rubin, center, and
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

Former Chicago Seven defendants Jerry Rubin, center, and David Dellinger, right, were among the 571 demonstrators arrested at the June protest.

Thousands listen to speeches and hear music at
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

Thousands listen to speeches and hear music at a town beach a half-mile from the LILCO plant in Shoreham on June 3, 1979, the day of the massive protest.

Folk singer Pete Seeger was among those attending
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

Folk singer Pete Seeger was among those attending a rally at the LILCO plant in Shoreham.

Lars Broman, of Sweden, who spoke at the
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

Lars Broman, of Sweden, who spoke at the rally at the LILCO plant in Shoreham, wore a shirt that said the Swedish equivalent of "Nuclear Power, No Thanks."

A protester dislpays an anti-nuclear sign as he
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

A protester dislpays an anti-nuclear sign as he marches at a rally protesting the nuclear plant in Shoreham.

Young protesters remove gate pins and bring it
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

Young protesters remove gate pins and bring it down at the anti-nuclear protest at LILCO 's nuclear power plant at Shoreham.

LILCO security guards hold up the fence gate
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

LILCO security guards hold up the fence gate at Shoreham after demonstrators knocked it down during the protest.

Officer Robert Feeney handcuffs Martin Randell just below
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

Officer Robert Feeney handcuffs Martin Randell just below the plant's reactor tower on June 3, 1979, Randell came the closest of any protester  at LILCO 's uncompleted nuclear power plant at Shoreham to reaching the tower, which is protected by two fences.

Suffolk County police carry a protester onto a
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

Suffolk County police carry a protester onto a bus after he was arrested for illegal trespass at the LILCO nuclear power plant at Shoreham, in the background.

Diane Hichborne, 17, of Wading River, who also
Photo Credit: Newsday/David L. Pokress

Diane Hichborne, 17, of Wading River, who also attended the rally, shows off her T-shirt with its anti-nuclear slogan.

A couple, drenched by the rain, snuggle against
Photo Credit: Newsday/David L. Pokress

A couple, drenched by the rain, snuggle against the cold on the grass near the main gate of the LILCO plant at Shoreham.

Pipes to be used as intake pipes for
Photo Credit: Newsday/Ike Eichorn

Construction of the plant began years earlier. Pipes to be used as intake pipes for the water to cool the reactor are seen at the Shoreham nuclear plant on Nov. 16, 1973.

Aerial view of the screen well at the
Photo Credit: Newsday/Paul J. Bereswill

Aerial view of the screen well at the Shoreham nuclear plant on Feb. 21, 1976. Located just off the Sound is a circulating water-pumping station that brings water from the sound to the plant.

Construction workers atop the 175-foot reactor building work
Photo Credit: Newsday/Bob Luckey

Construction workers atop the 175-foot reactor building work on the outside facing of the Shoreham nuclear plant on  Oct. 10, 1978.

Large circuit breakers loom under the giant LILCO
Photo Credit: Newsday/Bob Luckey

Large circuit breakers loom under the giant LILCO nuclear power plant in Shoreham on June 30, 1982.

The repaired Trans-American Delaval generators at the Shoreham
Photo Credit: Newsday/Bob Luckey

The repaired Trans-American Delaval generators at the Shoreham nuclear plant on June 14, 1985. The generators cracked two years ago.

Hydraulic control rod drive at the Shoreham nuclear
Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas R. Koeniges

Hydraulic control rod drive at the Shoreham nuclear plant on May 25, 1988.

Hydraulic pumps that move the rods in and
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

Hydraulic pumps that move the rods in and out of the reactor at the Shoreham nuclear plant on Dec. 9, 1988.

The wet cutting area where a piece of
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

The wet cutting area where a piece of the reactor is being cut at the Shoreham nuclear plant on July 28, 1992.

The Shoreham waste pit in Barnwell, South Carolina
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

The Shoreham waste pit in Barnwell, South Carolina on Sept. 25, 1992.

Dick Sappington, the regional manager for on site
Photo Credit: Newsday/John H. Cornell Jr.

Dick Sappington, the regional manager for on site inspections of load for the Dept. of Health and Environmental Control of South Carolina, tests the cask from the Shoreham nuclear plant on Sept. 25, 1992.

Aerial view looking south from over the Long
Photo Credit: Newsday/Cliff De Bear

Aerial view looking south from over the Long Island Sound shows a barge at the Shoreham nuclear plant standing by to move the radioactive material off Long Island on Sept. 24, 1993.

An aerial view of the Shoreham nuclear power
Photo Credit: Newsday File Photo

An aerial view of the Shoreham nuclear power plant in an undated photo. Long Island Sound is to the right.

An empty computer terminal sits inside the control
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

An empty computer terminal sits inside the control room of the shuttered Shoreham nuclear power plant on April 29, 2009.

The control room of the now-decommissioned Shoreham nuclear
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

The control room of the now-decommissioned Shoreham nuclear power plant on April 29, 2009.

A view of the Shoreham nuclear power plant
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

A view of the Shoreham nuclear power plant on April 2, 2012. A creek divides Wading River and Shoreham.

An aerial view of the Shoreham power plant
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

An aerial view of the Shoreham power plant on July 13, 2015.

All that's left of the ill-fated Shoreham power
Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

All that’s left of the ill-fated Shoreham power plant — besides $1 billion in debt — is a vacant concrete structure that housed a nuclear reactor before the facility was decommissioned in 1994. The shuttered plant is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

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