Thu, May 03, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Greenpeace activist flies into French nuclear power plant

Reuters and AFP, PARIS and LYON, FRANCE

A Greenpeace activist paraglides over the Bugey nuclear power plant in Saint-Vulbas, France, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

A Greenpeace activist yesterday flew and landed in one of energy firm EDF’s nuclear plants in a move to raise awareness to what the environmental activist group calls gaps in French reactors’ security four days before the presidential election runoff.

EDF confirmed that a motorized paraglider had landed within its Bugey nuclear site in southeastern France, but said that it had remained outside the reactor building.

“At no moment was the safety of the installations at risk,” EDF said in a statement.

The pilot was caught by the police in charge of protecting the site.

“A Greenpeace activist arrived with a motorized paraglider around 7:40am. He flew over the plant, threw a smoke bomb and landed inside, where he was detained,” police said.

France’s dependence on nuclear energy has been much debated before the election campaign. It relies on nuclear energy to produce 75 percent of its electricity.

“This overflight shows the vulnerability of the French nuclear site to an air attack. While Germany took account of a plane crash in its safety tests, France still refuses to analyse this risk for our reactors,” Sophia Majnoni d’Intignano, in charge of nuclear questions at Greenpeace, said in a statement.

In December, Greenpeace had carried out a similar action when activists entered the Nogent-sur-Seine plant near Paris, climbing onto one of the domes that houses a reactor, while other activists entered other nuclear installations.

Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, who said he would shut France’s oldest nuclear plant if elected, said he was waiting for more information before commenting.

Hollande softened his stance on nuclear after a pre-electoral pact by the Socialists and the Green party included shutting 24 nuclear reactors by 2025. Hollande said he would only pick what he viewed as priority issues in this deal.

After the Fukushima disaster in March last year, France and other European countries, decided to carry out safety tests on its 58 nuclear reactors to test their capacity to resist flooding, earthquakes, power outages, failure of the cooling systems and operational management of accidents.

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