Unionized Pilgrim nuclear plant workers returned to the picket line Wednesday after another breakdown in contract discussions prompted Entergy to implement its “contingency staffing plan,” described by union members as a lockout.Union employees were escorted from the plant at midnight after contract talks stalled, the Boston Herald reported. Picket lines formed near the plant the following morning. The Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 last protested at the plant May 16 after a previous breakdown of talks and the expiration of their existing contract. That was eventually followed by a temporary contract extension. This time, Entergy has responded by staffing the plant without the union members, which affected about 250 of the plant’s 650 regular employees.“Local 369 has stated flatly that while its members are not on strike, they reserve the right to walk off the job at any time, without any notice, and leave the nuclear power plant critically understaffed and in violation of the plant's operating license. This disregard for public safety is unacceptable. Accordingly, the company’s contingency plan is being implemented.“The contingency plan for temporary alternate staffing is consistent with Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and is in the interest of safety and maintaining formal organizational controls on the plant site. Highly qualified individuals from within Pilgrim’s management team as well as the Entergy nuclear fleet will be filling the necessary positions,” the company announced in a statement.