Hundreds of protesters Sunday called upon Governor Deval Patrick to close an electricity-generating power plant in Somerset, and about 44 of them were arrested for trespassing on the plant’s grounds, according to Somerset Police Chief Joseph C. Ferreira.
Ferreira estimated about 350 protesters had shown up for a demonstration arranged by climate change organization 350 Massachusetts outside the Brayton Point Power Station.
The plant’s owner, Dominion, described Brayton Point on its website as one of the largest electricity generating plants in New England, using a combination of low-sulfur coal, natural gas, or oil and diesel fuel to generate 1,528 megawatts of electricity.
Many protesters wore red shirts Sunday to indicate they were willing to be arrested. Law enforcement marked a line with police tape and traffic cones, and arrests were made when they crossed the line, according to Ferreira.
“They set themselves apart from the rest of the people,” Ferreira said. “They knew they were trespassing and they were peacefully arrested.”
Before the arrests, protesters marched from a nearby park to the plant, according to Adam Greenberg, a member of 350 Massachusetts and a spokesman at Sunday’s event.
Greenberg said protesters erected mock wind turbines and held out solar panels to stress alternatives to coal and fossil fuels processed at Brayton Point.
Greenberg said the demonstrators contend that Brayton Point should be closed because they believe it poses a health risk to locals and impacts the climate. He said one goal was to encourage Massachusetts to take a leading role in exploring other energy options.
Ferreira said around 100 members of law enforcement were on the scene from the Somerset Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, and the Bristol County sheriff’s office.
Those arrested were taken to a makeshift jail set up by the sheriff’s office at a National Guard armory in Fall River, Ferreira said. Police said one of those arrested was taken to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River to be treated for dehydration.
Representatives of the protesters and the police had met in the weeks leading up to the rally, and police had proposed alternatives to the voluntary arrests. Greenberg said that 350 Massachusetts believed that the arrests would make a bigger statement. “People have been working to shut this plant down for decades,’’ he said. “All the other avenues have been attempted multiple times.’’
In March, Dominion announced that it would sell the station to Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in New Jersey and California, according to a release on Dominion’s website.Andrew Doerfler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.