SHARE
COPY LINK

ENVIRONMENT

Greenpeace activists break into French nuclear plant to sound alarm on safety

A group of Greenpeace activists broke into a French nuclear plant on Tuesday and scaled the walls of a building containing spent nuclear fuel to highlight security shortcomings at the facility.

Greenpeace activists break into French nuclear plant to sound alarm on safety
Photo: AFP
Around 20 activists took part in the latest stunt by the environmental campaign group aimed at showing that France's 58 nuclear reactors are vulnerable to attack.
   
The group said the protest at Cruas-Meysse plant in the southeastern Ardeche region, which has four reactors, proved that security around spent nuclear fuel pools was particularly lacking.
   
Four activists scaled one of the buildings containing pools used to cool highly radioactive spent fuel rods and set off flares.
   
“All you need to do is make a hole (in the building) to start a fire,” Yannick Rousselet, Greenpeace France's chief anti-nuclear campaigner told AFP.
 
READ ALSO:
France backtracks on promise to cut nuclear power reliance
Photo: AFP
   
France's state-owned energy giant EDF which operates the plant confirmed the intrusion but said that the plant's safety was never in danger.
   
Regional security officials said 22 people were arrested, adding they had posed no threat.
 
The incident is the second of its kind in as many months.
   
In October, Greenpeace activists got inside a nuclear plant in Cattenom, near the border with Luxembourg, and set off fireworks at the foot of a spent fuel pool.
   
France is the world's most nuclear-dependent country, with atomic plants providing 75 percent of the country's electricity.
   
Around a third of all reactors in the country are set to be closed by 2025 under a government plan to boost renewables.
   
In a report in October Greenpeace noted that most of France's nuclear plants were built before the rise of threats from non-state terror groups such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda and claimed that their defences were weak.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS