SEABROOK, N.H. — Hundreds of opponents of nuclear power swarmed over or crawled under the outer perimeter fence at the Seabrook nuclear power plant Sunday, and police made 627 arrests without resistance.
Meanwhile, engineers hit a snag when a problem developed in a water feed pump valve. The problem, officials said, has put the countdown for the plant's first atomic chain reaction on hold.
The demonstrators, including children and a woman in a wheelchair, climbed or were helped over the seven-foot chain-link barrier at three points. Hundreds of other protesters remained outside the fence.
The number of arrests was the second-highest in the many protests at the plant, a focal point of the anti-nuclear movement since construction began 13 years ago. More than 1,400 arrests were made at a May, 1977, demonstration.
The civil disobedience came the day after a rally attracted 4,000 protesters, the protests coinciding with preparations at the plant for low-power testing, now expected to begin late this week.
Police Chief Paul Cronin said 627 arrests in all were made. About 75 people who were arrested in the afternoon returned to the plant and were taken into custody again, he said.
Seabrook opponents, led by the Clamshell Alliance of protest groups, maintain that the $6-billion plant is not safe and that the congested beach tourist area around it could not be evacuated safely in case of an accident.