Activists invade nuclear plant site in France

Activists invade nuclear plant site in France

PARIS - The Associated Press
Activists invade nuclear plant site in France

Picture of the French nuclear plant taken in Nogent-sur-Seine on December 5, 2011 after Greenpeace activists managed to sneak into the plant in what they said was a bid to highlight the dangers of atomic energy. AFP Photo

Environmental activists invaded the grounds of a French nuclear power plant before dawn on Monday in an action aimed to show the vulnerability of atomic sites in France, Greenpeace said.

French power company Electricite de France said the intruders were immediately detected after the "illegal" raid at its plant in Nogent-sur-Seine southeast of Paris.

France, which gets about three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power, regularly faces protests from environmental activists over shipments of nuclear waste. Activist incursions into atomic plants are unusual.

Seven of nine intruders were detained, and the incursion did not affect security at the site, EDF said in a statement. It did not say where the other two activists are, and a company spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.

EDF said activists' banners were also hoisted on two other nuclear sites — Chinon in northwestern France, and Blayais in the southwest — before they were quickly taken down.

"With this nonviolent action, Greenpeace has shown how vulnerable French nuclear plants are," said Sophia Majnoni d'Intignano, a Greenpeace activist. "Simple activists, with peaceful intentions and of few means, were able to reach the heart of a nuclear plant." French TV showed pictures of activists in miner's helmets rummaging through the dark and crawling in what appeared to be a tunnel with banners that read "Coucou" (Hey) and "Facile" (Easy) on them.

Referring to a meltdown at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan this year, Majnoni d'Intignano said France's nuclear sites face less of a threat of natural disaster than of terrorism.

"The government is going to conclude in several months that our nuclear plants are very very safe because it's believed that they could withstand a flood or an earthquake," she told i-Tele television, referring to a government report on plant safety expected in coming months. "But those aren't the real risks for our nuclear industry. It's the risk of external, non-natural attack — like the risk of terrorism."