30 activists held at nuclear plant

Greenpeace protesters stage dawn protest at France’s oldest nuclear power facility in Fessenheim, near German border

18 March 2014

MORE THAN 30 of the 60 Greenpeace activists who this morning occupied France’s oldest nuclear power plant at Fessenheim, near the border with Germany, have been arrested.

The activists, from 14 countries including France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Poland, arrived at the facility shortly before 6am.

As part of their protest, they unfurled a banner, which read: “Stop Risking Europe”, next to the dome of the 37-year-old facility’s Number One reactor.

You can see a video of the protest here

They did this “to denounce the risk of French nuclear power for the whole of Europe,’’ the group said in a statement.

Greenpeace spokesman Cyrille Cormier said that the plant, which is in the Haut-Rhin and close to the Swiss and German borders, is in “an exposed to seismic risk flood zone”.

More than 7 million people live within 100 km of the facility and would be affected in the event of a major accident, he said.

Forty protesters entered a protected area, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. It was later revealed that none of them managed to get inside any of the buildings and the break-in had no effect on operations at the plant, an EDF spokesman said.

The site was rapidly cordoned off by police, and a helicopter monitored the protesters’ activity in the area.

Thirteen other protesters in boats on the Rhine displayed a banner proclaiming that the “Future is renewable. Stop nuclear”.

The protest comes two days before heads of state, including Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discuss the future of energy supply in Europe at a summit.

Mr Cormier said that Greenpeace wants François Hollande and Angela Merkel to commit their countries - and the whole of Europe - to a move away from nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.

Mr Cormier said: “We want to warn about the risks posed by Fessenheim and all nuclear power plants in Europe.

"Fessenheim is a symbol. It is 37 years old . We want reactor operation to stop at 40 years and that this limit be written into French and European law, " he said.

But a union spokesman condemned Greenpeace’s protest, arguing that the closure of the facility would mean greater dependance on coal-fuelled power stations, which he said would lead to more pollution.

France is the world’s most nuclear-dependent country. It operates 58 reactors and is a leading international supporter of atomic energy.

But in a deal with the Greens before the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections, President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 per cent to 50 per cent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

Fessenheim is the oldest French nuclear plant and has been in operation since 1977. President François Hollande has said it will close by the end of 2016.

Picture: BFM TV

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