Mitzi Bowman, a founding member of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone and passionate activist for peace and a nuclear-free world, passed away in Vermont on February 14, 2020. She was 95.
A longtime resident of New Haven, Mitzi and her husband, Peter Bowman, became alarmed in the 1970s upon learning that plans were afoot to use I-84 as Millstone a major conduit for shipments of high-level nuclear waste from nuclear power and nuclear weapons sites in New England to temporary storage facilities out of state.
Together they formed Don’t Waste Connecticut, an activist organization which campaigned to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear waste.
Mitzi and Pete joined campaigns for a nuclear-free New England and became founding members of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone in 1998 when Millstone, the three-unit nuclear power plant in Waterford, Connecticut, was placed on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s “Watch List” and shut down for three years in the wake of whistleblower revelations of systemic safety and license violations.
Millstone Unit 1 never reopened.
Judge Robert J. Hale of the Connecticut Superior Court ordered that Millstone Unit 2 remain shut down in the spring of 1999 despite an NRC order allowing restart. Don’t Waste Connecticut was a plaintiff in that precedent-setting case, Fish Unlimited v. Northeast Utilities, which remains the only court case in the world in which a judge has ordered a nuclear power plant shut down to protect the environment. The NRC action allowing Unit 2 restart “has no relevance here,” Judge Hale ruled, as the issues in the case challenged Millstone’s massive destruction of marinelife, an environmental issue outside NRC jurisdiction.
The Bowmans were ever-present speakers and petitioners at hearings of the NRC and the then-Department of Public Utilities Control, which concluded that Millstone Unit 2 was no longer “used and useful” because of systemic operational deficiencies and therefore should be taken from the rate base in the then-still-regulated environment. Yet later, DPUC approved Millstone’s purchase – including Unit 2, which was allowed to restart – by Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., a paper company with no employees and no assets other than a rented post office box in Niantic.
The Bowmans were a well-spoken fixture at anti-nuclear events and rallies. They “tabled” – set up anti-nuclear literature, brochures and petitions – at concerts and countless other events including the annual “East Lyme Day” held across Niantic Bay from Millstone. They were highly respected in the anti-nuclear community nationwide and together they connected with thousands of people face-to-face. Both were historians and archivists of the anti-nuclear movement and maintained close contacts with leading experts in the field of the biological effects of the low-level radiation continuously released by nuclear powers plants to the air and water during routine operations.
Pete died of cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2006. Two years later, Mitzi moved to Vermont to be near her children, Lori and Jason, and there she remained active in campaigning for peace and social justice.
To the end, she handed out fliers for the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders, the only presidential aspirant to take a firm position against nuclear power. She passed away just days before Bernie won the Vermont primary on Super Tuesday 2020.
Mitzi’s family asked that in lieu of flowers her friends make donations in her honor to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, 1 Church Street, 3rd Floor, Burlington VT 05401.
An obituary published in the Times Argus newspaper of Montpelier VT described Mitzi as “a dynamic, strong-willed crusader for anything to do with peace and justice, civil rights, solar energy and Bernie.”
Born in New York City, Mitzi attended the High School of Music and Art and attained mastery as a librarian. Twice widowed, she was first married to Hy Bogursky.
Mitzi’s family described her as one who “loved music, was an artist, hiker, lifeguard, animal lover, sailor and organic gardener. She loved singing with her three sisters and lively political argument.”
Mitzi joined the Air Force during World War II as a 19-year-old. Stationed in Alabama, she taught swimming to servicemen.
Like her beloved Pete before her, Mitzi died on Valentine’s Day.
Mitzi’s contributions of influencing public awareness and inspiring people of all generations to work toward a nuclear-free world respectful of nature cannot be overstated.
Mitzi possessed a true radiance of heart and spirit and a surpassing dignity. She was a gifted communicator whose warmth and genuineness readily won the trust of strangers. In the words of e e cummings, she personified all that was “natural, infinite and yes.” Mitzi was a true friend of ours.
Posted March 16, 2020