Anti-nuclear protesters arrested for trespassing at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

One of the protesters, Sarah Thatcher of Harwich, being taken into custody during a march on the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station on Sunday. Paul Rifkin of Falmouth awaits his turn in background.

PLYMOUTH-Fourteen people were arrested for trespassing during a peaceful protest at the entrance road to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Sunday afternoon.

The demonstration was organized by Cape Downwinders, an anti-nuclear group based on Cape Cod. Roughly 30 people gathered to deliver a letter to Plant Vice-President Robert Smith calling for among other things, the shutdown of Pilgrim Station, the movement of all spent nuclear fuel into dry cask storage and assistance for plant employees after shutdown. 

Participants came from as far as Vermont to take part. After gathering on Eliot Lane, across from the power plant’s Powerhouse Road entrance, the group crossed State Road and were greeted with a shut gate, five Plymouth police officers and two Entergy security officers, one of whom was videotaping the event. According to Plymouth Police Lt. Victor Higgins, Entergy has been granted the authority to close the gate.

Members of Cape Downwinders and other activists make their way towards the nuclear power plant.

Once at the gate, David Agnew of Cape Downwinders read the letter out loud. He was then followed by several speakers, including Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch, who called recent NRC recommendations for improving plant safety in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan, “totally inadequate.” She repeated the call for moving spent fuel at the plant from the pool where it now soaks to dry cask storage, stating that fuel stored that way in Japan came through the tsunami and earthquake unschated.

Entergy is in the process of building an area for dry storage of nuclear fuel at Pilgrim Station. The first fuel rods are expected to be moved in 2014.

Another speaker said she had protested against the opening of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire with her children in the 1970s. “We didn’t think it was safe then, we don’t think it’s safe now,” she said. 

Jones River Watershed Executive Director Pine Dubois attacked the plant for being a hazard to marine life in Cape Cod Bay. Taking one river herring, she said, is punishable by stiff fines, but Pilgrim Station kills thousands of the threatened species. Entergy, she claimed, is violating the law. Her group has filed complaints with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the plant’s supposed threat to the environment.

An employee of Entergy videotaped the entire event.

Eventually, several of the protesters crossed the gate and were told by Entergy Security they were trespassing. Agnew attempted to hand the letter to an Entergy representative who declined to take it, telling him Robert Smith was not at the power plant, nor, it seemed was anyone else who could accept the letter. This led to a chant of “no one’s in charge” and a round of “This Land is Your Land” by the group.

After as brief standoff, a group of protesters were arrested for trespassing. Despite some chants of “shame” directed at Plymouth Police, The process was largely peaceful, with several of the protesters taken away without being restrained.

Seven men and seven women, ranging in age from 58 to 81, were taken into custody. no one from Plymouth was arrested, 10 of those who were came from Cape Cod.

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