Greenpeace Breaks into French Nuclear Plant

Tricastin Nuclear Plant.  Photo: Flickr/ Jean-louis Zimmermann

Tricastin Nuclear Plant.
Photo: Flickr/ Jean-louis Zimmermann

On July 15, a group of Greenpeace activists broke into the Tricastin nuclear plant in the French department of Drôme. They declared that their act was meant to “denounce security breaches in the production of nuclear energy.”

The French media quickly highlighted that the activists needed only 15 minutes to get past three fences, where they unfolded a banner that read, “Hollande, President of the catastrophe.” This is not a first for Greenpeace, who engaged in similar acts in May 2012 and December 2011. These protests were a criticism of France’s intense use of nuclear power in electricity production.

The police claimed that they had detected the activists some time before they were arrested. Meanwhile, the directors of Electricité de France (EDF), in charge of the plant, declared with confidence that the fences breached by the activists were only the outer limits of the plant, assuring that no sensitive zones had been reached.

The French government, after declaring that French nuclear power plants were among the safest in the world, announced its intention to modify legislation in order toughen sanctions against such actions. For now, intrusions of this kind can only be described as home invasions or trespassing. In this case, the activists can be accused of an “offense to the President of the Republic” because their intrusion is in an area concerning national security. EDF demands the simplification of those charges, for example by classifying its nuclear plants as “military zones.”

In an interview for the French newspaper LesInrocks, Jean-François Julliard, head of Greenpeace France, declared that the activists targeted the site of Tricastin because they estimated it to be part of the “five most dangerous nuclear plants” in the country. While ecology and energy are currently subjects of wide debate in French politics, Greenpeace wanted to “remind the President of his commitments to reduce the percentage of nuclear energy in French from 75% to 50%.”

While most French political figures condemned the act, others, like green party representative Europe-Écologie-les-Verts (EELV) Barbare Pompili, support the action. Pompili even declared that “we should thank Greenpeace rather than condemning them,” calling the protest a “civic action,” and highlighting the important part played by “whistle-blowers.”

Not even two weeks after the dismissal of Delphine Batho, now former minister of the Environment, and the announcement of an 12 billion euro state investment plan including 50% dedicated to environmental change, it is clear that ecology has become a sensitive subject in French politics and is a matter of concern for the French people.

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  1. […] group of Greenpeace activists broke into the Tricastin nuclear plant in the French department of Drôme. They declared that their act was meant to “denounce security […]

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