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Protest aims to press Governor Patrick on Pilgrim

Residents from every town on Cape Cod will gather in a protest Monday at the State House over the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

David L. Ryan/Globe staff/file 2006

Residents from every town on Cape Cod will gather in a protest Monday at the State House over the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

Residents from every town on Cape Cod are set to rally at the State House Monday in a protest aimed at pressing Governor Deval Patrick to work on getting federal authorities to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.

Diane Turco, cofounder of the group organizing the rally, said Sunday that she expects about 100 people coming from all 15 towns on the Cape to push Patrick to pressure the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that regulates commercial nuclear power plants, to close the reactor.

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Cape Downwinders, a group focused on educating the public about what it says are safety issues at Pilgrim and pushing for the power station’s closure, is organizing the event.

“We see Governor Patrick’s silence as de facto support for the continuing operation of Pilgrim,” Turco said, adding that the group would present the governor’s office with the results of ballot questions or warrant articles from individual Cape towns showing support for Pilgrim’s closure.

She said public safety could not be assured with the continued operation of Pilgrim, a more than 40-year-old plant that has long been a target of protests and a lightning rod for controversy.

Joyce McMahon, a spokeswoman for Entergy, which owns Pilgrim, said: “We appreciate those who support the plant and respect the right of plant opponents to make their opinions known.”

“Our focus is on operating the plant safely and reliably,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

The protest will come one day before the third anniversary of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan, where radiation leaked following an earthquake and tsunami.

Fukushima and Pilgrim use similar nuclear reactor technology. Entergy made upgrades to the plant after the Fukushima disaster.

In 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a new operating license for Pilgrim that is good for 20 years.

A spokeswoman for the governor had no comment on the planned protest but referred to Patrick’s comments on the issue earlier this year.

“There’s a lot of anxiety that many have, and I share it, that a plant that was designed for 20 or 30 years is well past its useful life, and though the inspection protocol is rigorous, the oversight agency — the federal Nuclear Regulatory Agency — is famously nontransparent,” Patrick said in January on a visit to Cape Cod, according to a transcript provided by the spokeswoman.

Patrick has spoken about the facility on previous occasions as well. At a news conference last summer, the governor was asked about Pilgrim following news that Entergy would be shutting down another New England nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee.

“It’s not clear to me that we need Pilgrim in order to meet all of our electrical needs,” Patrick said in August.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.

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