Fourteen members of the group Cape Downwinders were arrested Sunday while demonstrating at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, after alledgedly trying to get past security to deliver a letter.
Monday, they pleaded not guilty today at their arraignment in Plymouth District Court.
The protesters were charged with trespassing on the property of Entergy Nuclear, which owns and operates Pilgrim.
Judge Rosemary Minehan entered the not guilty plea on behalf of the protesters and ordered the case held over for a July 11 hearing.
The demonstrators said their message is simple.
“The Pilgrim nuclear facility is a dangerous facility and it should be shut down,” Paul Rifkin, a member of the group, told CBS Boston.
The group wants to deliver a letter to Pilgrim’s owners, Entergy, demanding that they cease operations, pointing to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan as a wake-up call to action.
Prosecutor Andrew Warmington offered the group a plea deal of six months probation. But Minehan suggested the protesters think over that option until their next court appearance.
David Agnew of Brewster, founder of Cape Downwinders, a Cape organization opposed to Pilgrim, said the group was trying to deliver a letter to Entergy urging the nuclear plant cease operation. He said plant security guard refused to accept the letter, according to the Cape Cod Times.
The protest comes at a time when Entergy is dealing with several Pilgrim issues.
The union that represents most of the plant's workers has voted to strike if a new agreement isn't reached soon. The two sides recently agreed to extend the expired contract another 10 days, until May 25. Last week, UWUA Local 369 claimed that some of its members were locked out of the plant, albeit with full pay for the day. The next day, those members were allowed back to work.
The plant's current operation license expires June 8. Entergy has been working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as state and federal legislators, for the past six years to renew the license.
Recently, Gov. Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Congressman Bill Keating have asked the NRC to consider the studies done after Japan's Fukushima disaster in the relicensing process for Pilgrim. The NRC has continually declined to do so in this case.
During the May 12 town election, Plymouth voters overwhelmingly asked the Board of Selectmen to write a letter to the NRC, opposing the new license "pending the full implementation of the all safety improvements recommended by the NRC as a result of lessons learned from the failures of similarly designed reactors in Fukushima, Japan."
Duxbury's Pilgrim Watch and Kingston's Jones River Watershed Association also filed appeals and contentions with the NRC on Pilgrim's application.
Earlier this month, the NRC staff recommended the commission approve Pilgrim's license, and a public commission vote is expected soon.