After a Plymouth court judge dismissed trespassing charges against 11 nuclear power foes Wednesday, the defendants and their supporters returned to the Pilgrim nuclear plant, where several of them were arrested on new charges.
According to the defendants, three of the five people arrested outside the Plymouth plant Wednesday were among the 11 whose charges had been dropped.
Group spokeswoman Arlene Williamson said the protesters returned to Pilgrim after their charges were dismissed “to show we’re not going away.”
The defendants said they wanted a trial to shed light on “the devastating consequences of a nuclear accident.”
Defendant Diane Turco said the Pilgrim plant, which recently won a 20-year renewal from federal regulators, “is identical to the three reactors that exploded in Fukushima, Japan,” with serious health consequences for the neighboring population.
Both Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said that Pilgrim is safe and not vulnerable to the natural disaster that doomed the Japanese reactors.
In court for a hearing on whether they would be allowed to use the “necessity defense” in their trial, the 11 defendants had planned to call on expert witnesses to back their contention that the seriousness of the risk to public safety and health posed by Pilgrim necessitated trespassing on the plant last May to make their protest.
But Judge Kathryn Hand granted a motion by Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Joshua Gedraitis to dismiss the charges. Gedraitis contended that a trial would take up too much of the state’s time and that the defendants were seeking to further a personal agenda against nuclear power by putting Entergy on trial.
“Simply put, as these cases now stand, dismissal without prejudice is a wise allocation of limited public resources,” Gedraitis said in his motion to dismiss.
Disappointed at losing their day in court, the defendants and about 40 supporters went directly to Pilgrim and encroached on the property. After being told by local police to leave the property or face arrest, the five who remained were charged with trespassing.
Williamson, who was not arrested, said demonstrators reached the parking lot outside the reactor before plant security guards confronted them.
Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.