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Office of Sustainability Programs

UNH Hosts Panel on the 1974 Defeat
of the Great Bay Oil Refinery

By Leigh Dunkelberger
Office of Sustainability Programs

March 14, 2003

DURHAM, N.H. -- Four Durham citizens who fought alongside hundreds of local and Seacoast citizens to save Durham Point and the Great Bay ecosystem from becoming the home of a 400,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery proposed by Aristotle Onassis will recount their story during a panel discussion April 8, 2003, at the University of New Hampshire.

Aristotle Onassis proposed building the Olympic Refinery at Durham Point. Here is the scale model of what he had in mind. (Photo courtesy of the Durham Historic Association.)

The event is open to the public and will be held in the Granite State Room of UNH's Memorial Union Building, from 12:30 - 2 p.m.

Each panelist will share the story of her role and the details of the town's campaign to stop the project. Speakers are Nancy Sandberg, former chairwoman of Save Our Shores, the local advocacy organization of concerned citizens who led the Durham fight; Sharon Meeker, former outreach and public relations chair for Save Our Shores; Phyllis Bennett, former publisher of Publick Occurrences, the small Durham newspaper that provided continuous coverage; and Dudley Dudley, former N.H. state legislator, who sponsored the "Home Rule" bill to give the town of Durham the right of refusal.

The March 8, 1974, edition of Publick Occurrences reports that the organized efforts opposing the oil refinery are victorious, with the town of Durham voting against the refinery. (Image courtesy of Publick Occurrences.)

The panel will be presented to the public and more than 400 students from an environmental conservation class, taught by instructor Chris Schadler. Participants will learn about Durham's history, issues surrounding the 1970s energy crisis, and the effectiveness of citizen action.

The event is part of a larger effort within the Climate Education Initiative to educate about the dependence on fossil fuels and the issues surrounding alternative energy options. The event is linked to an interactive educational exhibit, "The Promise of the Sun," in the MUB as well as online at For more information, call the Office of Sustainability Programs at 603-862-4088.

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