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ENERGY

Nuclear plant invaded by Greenpeace activists

Greenpeace activists sneaked into a French nuclear power plant on Monday, the environmental group announced, an "intrusion" which police confirmed.

Nuclear plant invaded by Greenpeace activists

In a statement Greenpeace said some members had entered the nuclear site at Nogent-sur-Seine, 95 kilometres southeast of Paris, to “spread the message that there is no such thing as safe nuclear power.”

Eight activists entered the power station site according to a source with the French gendarmerie, the armed police force, who added that some of the intruders had already been apprehended.

“A group of militants managed to climb onto the dome of one of the reactors, where they unfurled a banner saying ‘Safe Nuclear Power Doesn’t Exist’,” said Greenpeace spokesman Axel Renaudin.

“The aim is to show the vulnerability of French nuclear installations, and how easy it is to get to the heart of a reactor,” said Sophia Majnoni, a Greenpeace nuclear expert.

She denounced a government security audit of its nuclear plants as “a communications exercise which does not take into account risks already identified in the past and does not learn the lessons of Fukushima,” the Japanese nuclear plant which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami.

The Nogent-sur-Seine plant, run by the EDF energy company, was chosen by Greenpeace “because it is the nearest to Paris,” Greenpeace said.

French Industry Minister Eric Besson said that if the dawn intrusion was confirmed it would indicate a dysfunction in the plant’s security system.

“If an enquiry confirms (the break-in) that would mean that there has been a dysfunction and that measures must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” the minister said in French radio.

Greenpeace’s action came as UN climate talks entered their second week in South Africa.

Near the Durban conference site six Greenpeace campaigners were arrested as they tried to hang a banner reading “Listen to the People, not the Polluters” at a hotel where a “Global Business Day,” hosted by business organisations, was taking place.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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