Oct. 27, 1975: A Vietnam vet decides to stop Oregon's nuclear plants…

PULLING THE PLUG: Anti-nuclear activist Lloyd Marbet in 1976.

Lloyd Marbet came home to Portland from the Vietnam War in 1970, shaken by the destruction he had witnessed. He sunk into every library book he could find, seeking meaning and direction.

His girlfriend handed him a new book she had just finished, Perils of the Peaceful Atom, a harrowing account of the dangers posed by the nuclear power industry.

The book alarmed Marbet. He knew Portland General Electric would soon open its Trojan Nuclear Plant in Rainier, 41 miles to the north.

"If Trojan gets built in Oregon," he told his girlfriend, "we're leaving for Canada." Marbet then saw the title of the next chapter: "Don't Bother Running."

Marbet became the state's foremost anti-nuclear power activist and did more than anyone to end the madness of atomic energy proliferation in Oregon. 

Trojan couldn't be stopped, but the region's utilities wanted to build at least seven more plants. Marbet took on PGE's plans for two more at the Eastern Oregon site called Pebble Springs.

He hardly seemed a formidable foe. The Ohio native had failed to finish community college and before the war had sold handmade art supplies to local school districts. "Part of Lloyd's uniqueness," says Marbet friend and attorney Greg Kafoury, "was he didn't have enough formal education to know that what he wanted to do was supposed to be impossible."

The grandson of two Presbyterian ministers, Marbet with his unruly beard and burly physique looked and sounded like a ferocious Old Testament prophet. He thundered at government officials and utility executives at the first state hearing on Pebble Springs, impervious to condescension, compromise and co-option.

"The whole process was confrontational," Marbet says. "I saw that to win I needed to learn the procedural ins and outs."

In April 1975, a state siting panel, stacked to serve private utilities, approved permits for the Pebble Springs plants. Marbet, through an organization he called Forelaws on Board, sued on Oct. 27, 1975, to stop them. PGE waged a major legal fight, but two years later the Oregon Supreme Court sided with Marbet, ruling that the siting council hadn't required PGE to provide adequate safeguards. The delays allowed other nuclear power opponents to bring forward a successful 1980 ballot initiative that set tougher standards for Oregon plants. The measure effectively killed Pebble Springs. 

Marbet waged three unsuccessful ballot measure campaigns to close Trojan before the plant broke down and PGE shuttered it in 1993. Years later, PGE executives told Marbet his fight against Pebble Springs and Trojan saved the utility from its own financial folly.

From the Archives:

1974: Mt. Hood Freeway Killed    

1975: Soccer City, USA  |  A Vet Shuts Down Nuclear Power 

1976: A Home for Refugees  |  Intel Changes the Economy 

1978: Bill Walton Sits Down

1979: Busing Ends in Portland Schools | Oregon Wine Gets Famous

1982: Courts Pave Way for Nudie Bars | The Other Daily Paper Folds

1984: Satyricon's First Show | A Bartender Becomes Mayor | The Air Jordan Saves Nike

1985: First Female Police Chief Ousted | Wieden+Kennedy's Most Important Ad

1986: Dark Horse Comics' First Issue 

1988: Inaugural Oregon Brewers' Fest | Rise of Hate Groups

1989: NW Rowhouses Burn  |  Gus Van Sant's Portland Hits Screen

1990: Our First Great Restaurant  | Oregon's Longest Tax Revolt

1991: Cleaning up the Willamette

1995: Bicyclists Sue Portland

1996: Vera Katz Builds a Wall | March to Save City Nightclub  | Powell's Rebuffs Amazon

1997: Path Cleared for Pearl District

1999: Stumptown Coffee Opens  |  Fight Club Hits DVD

2000: Largest Union Pension Fraud Ever

2003: Fred Meets Carrie  |  Suicide of Elliott Smith

2004: Gay Marriage Legalized (Briefly)  | Goldschmidt Exposed  | Eastside Portland Rises

2006: The Death of James Chasse Jr.

2008: Our Fanciest Restaurant Ever Bombs

2009: Sam Adams Admits Lying

2011: Occupy Portland 

WWeek 2015

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