SHOREHAM, L. I.--Police arrested more than 500 anti-nuclear demonstrators who climbed fences surrounding the nuclear power plant here yesterday. The mass occupation attempt was the largest in the United States since 1400 demonstrators were arrested at the site of the proposed Seabrook nuclear power plant in April 1977.
A mile-and-a-half from the plant, which the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) hopes to open in 1984, an estimated 15,000 foes of nuclear power peacefully gathered on a strip of beach to hear speakers and singers. It was the largest political demonstration ever in Long Island's Suffolk County.
The demonstrators trudged around the outside of the nearly-completed facility in the pouring rain, looking for places to climb the fence. They spread blankets across the barbed wire on the top of the fences, and then jumped into the arms of police who hustled them away to waiting schoolbuses.
Most of the arrests were made without incident. The protestors, who had taken eight-hour civil disobedience training courses, went limp in a few cases but for the most part stood passively while police fastened plastic strips that served as handcuffs and took them to police headquarters in Yatbank, N.Y.
Police, demonstrators and power company personnel said the occupation attempt had gone pretty much as expected.
No serious injuries were reported. "It was not a very pleasant experience for us, of course," Bill Edwards, a LILCO spokesman said last night, "but it went very well, considering."
Violence erupted only once, when a group of about ten teenagers stormed the plant's main gate and attempted to enter the grounds by force. When LILCO employees attempted to close the gate they pulled at the metal fence and began throwing rocks and bottles over it.
Among those who later climbed over the main gate and were arrested by police were anti-Vietnam War activists Jerry Rubin and David Dellinger.
Police spokesmen said most of the demonstrators were charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence.
About 20 small boats supporting anti-nuclear signs bobbed in the swells along the beach while a predominantly young crowd listened to George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus, say "nuclear power is not only anti-life but an economic disaster."
"If it were up to me, I'd close down every nuclear plant in the world tomorrow," Wald added.
The South Hudson Alliance Against Atomic Development (SHAD) organized both the rally and occupation as part of the International Day of Protest Against Nuclear Power. Protests were held yesterday at other nuclear plants around the country, including the Pilgrim II station in Massachusetts (see story, p. 9).