Collection Open! Environmentalists, Inc.

We are pleased to announce that the Environmentalists, Inc. Papers are available for research. The task of processing the collection was challenging, yet rewarding, for me. During my involvement, I learned a great deal about and gained appreciation for environmental activism and justice. We arranged and described the collection using a modified More Product, Less Process (MPLP) approach in order to expedite its availability. This means that some parts of the collection have only been processed to the subseries level, instead of the more detailed folder level to which we normally process collections.

Barnwell nuclear plant

Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant

Environmentalists, Inc. (E.I.) is a small, non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the environment. It was founded in South Carolina in February 1972 in response to the planned construction of the Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant. Built to process spent nuclear fuel from commercial power reactors, the plant was never used for this purpose, and instead was used briefly for research and development programs. E.I.’s efforts to prevent the plant’s construction had directed national attention to the hazards of nuclear waste, and eventually led to the decommissioning the plant in 1997-1998.

Ruth Thomas

Ruth Thomas testifying at a hearing on the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station, 1984

Comprised of fewer than 100 members, E.I. has worked for many years to combat the promotion of nuclear power without adequate attention to its risks and weaknesses and to assist individuals and organizations in ensuring a healthy environment in South Carolina. The group has been involved in many appeals and lawsuits to prevent projects that threaten the environment and public health. The driving force behind the organization has been Ruth Sackett Thomas (b. 1920), a former art teacher and draftswoman. Thomas has served in many different roles in E.I., including founding member, legal assistant, researcher, and president.

The papers date from 1946 to 2015 and consist largely of legal and topical materials. Legal materials pertain to the many lawsuits and other legal proceedings in which E.I. was involved or took an interest. Topical materials reflect the extensive research the organization conducted on nuclear and hazardous waste. The collection also includes administrative and financial records, as well as environmental publications produced by various organizations.

Contributed by Mary Clare Johnson, Graduate Assistant

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