As President of the Board of the Snake River Alliance, I want to thank all our members for their ongoing support. As a member-based organization, it is all of you – all of us! – who keep Idaho’s citizens aware of the potential effects nuclear waste could have on our lives. We have a lot to be proud of AND a lot of work ahead of us in this 40th year of our existence. With your help, we look forward to a busy and successful year! Please enjoy reading why my husband, long time Snake River Alliance member Cees Hoefnagels, and I joined the Alliance.
Why I Joined the Snake River Alliance
I grew up in the Netherlands during World War II, and as a result, I have always been vehemently opposed to war and any type of bomb. The Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and the constant threat of bombings forced my family (2 adults and 5 little children) to live in the basement to keep the Nazis from seeing our lights to prevent bombings during nighttime raids.
I moved to the United States (Silicon Valley) for work in 1967 and to Idaho in the late 1970’s. Not long after my arrival in Idaho, I became aware of the presence of the nuclear facilities in Southeastern Idaho and the danger it posed to the Idaho water supply. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately looked for like-minded people with whom to protest this situation, and found them at the then young Snake River Alliance.
My first years in Idaho were spent working in Nampa. A small group of 9 of us (including a priest, 2 nuns, and a doctor) held watches to monitor the progress of what was then called the White Train (because of white boxcars carrying nuclear waste), to alert the public and to protest against these trains coming through our city and state. We had some success in raising awareness (lots of newspaper coverage), but did not succeed in stopping the trains altogether.
I eventually moved to Boise and continued my work as a member of the Alliance. I have stuck with it through thick and thin because the job of raising awareness of the dangers of the nuclear industry has not gone away.
My awareness of nuclear power was awakened in 1986, with the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. I lived in San Francisco at the time, and within a week after the accident joined a group protesting nuclear power called Beyond War. It was the first time I had really focused on the dangers of nuclear power production and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. My most vivid memory of this time is of an art installation at Civic Center Plaza made up of white ceramic cones about a foot tall, one for every nuclear weapon in the world’s nuclear arsenals. The cones covered nearly the whole plaza. It was sobering.
After leaving San Francisco, my attention was drawn more towards environmental issues and I was part of a group that sought to raise awareness about CFC’s and other environmental dangers. It wasn’t until I returned to Idaho in the early 2000s that I became aware of the Snake River Alliance.
I had gone out to dinner with a friend at the Shangri-La Tea House, thinking it would be a quiet place to relax, only to find that some group called the Snake River Alliance was holding an informational evening there. I was totally annoyed, tried to tune it out, but became riveted by what I was overhearing. The then ED, Liz Woodruff, was speaking eloquently about the dangers of nuclear waste and what the Alliance was trying to do. It planted the seed.
A few years later, I met Cees and began attending Alliance events with him. I knew at once I had found “my people.” I loved the work-together spirit and the way this group was taking on such an enormous problem. I have been inspired by working with fellow Alliance members and enjoyed becoming more involved over the years. I have been the Board President since June of 2017 and I hope that I can really help to further the organization’s goals and work in the new year!