BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - Dozens of protesters are being arrested in Brattleboro for trespassing on the property of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in a demonstration against the continued operation of the reactor.
Seven others have been arrested for entering the headquarters of the plant's owner, Entergy Corp . in New Orleans.
Thursday marks the first day of the plant's operation after its initial 40-year operating license expired a day earlier.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued the plant a 20-year license extension, but the state of Vermont wants the plant to close.
More than 800 protesters began marching around noon to the plant's Brattleboro headquarters.
Irina Markova, 66, of Montpelier, thinks nuclear power is a threat to the planet.
"People are saying, `What about the jobs?' And I feel for them. But there won't be any need for jobs if there is a nuclear accident here. I'm hoping times are changing," she said.
In a statement, Vermont Yankee said that the company respects the rights of opponents to peacefully protest, but that the company's employees will not be distracted from their jobs.
"As it is every day, their focus on safety will be laser sharp. Anything that occurs outside the property will be coordinated by local and state law enforcement authorities," said spokesman Larry Smith.
Vermont and New Orleans-based Entergy Corp ., the plant owner, have been embroiled in a legal battle over extending the Vernon plant's 40-year license, which expired Wednesday. A federal judge in January said the Legislature overstepped its bounds in trying to close the plant. The ruling landed the dispute back before state regulators.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is located in Vernon, just minutes north of the Massachusetts state line.
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