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TMI opponents tired, bitter, but not bowed

By DEBORAH BAKER

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- At the end of an unsuccessful six-year fight to keep the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant from reopening, activists are tired, bitter and in debt -- but they haven't given up.

A handful of protesters held signs outside the home of Gov. Dick Thornburgh Thursday, just hours after the restart of TMI's Unit 1 reactor, idle since the accident in March 1979 at the plant.

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The demonstrators carried red-and-white banners reading 'Thornburgh is Gutless' and 'Dick is a Coward.'

After the U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to block the restart, Thornburgh announced the end to his legal battle against TMI, saying it was time to work on ensuring the plant is safely operated.

But the protesters insisted the governor had the power under state law to declare the reactor a danger and order it shut, throwing the issue back into court.

'What he's done is gone through the motions and made himself look good. How the hell do you put TMI behind you when you have to live with it every day,' said Paula Kinney, a Middletown mother of teenagers.

Eugene Stilp, a protester and a spokesman for TMI Alert Inc., the most visible anti-restart group, said: 'I think people are really tired. Six and a half years is a long time.'

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Stilp also said TMI Alert is 'tens of thousands of dollars' in debt for legal work. But he said the group would monitor the progress at the reactor.

'Some day we're going to shut them down. We're waiting for the utility to screw up. They always do,' he said.

Middletown Mayor Robert Reid, another longtime opponent of the restart, said the people of his community are tired of the issue, and feel their voices were ignored.

'I think there's a lot of apathy. Six years of rallies, six years of court fights, people are fed up with it. They fought the battle and they lost.

'The court made its decision, and we're going to have to live with it.'

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