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ENVIRONMENT

Greenpeace protesters jailed for fireworks stunt at French nuclear plant

A French court on Tuesday sentenced two Greenpeace activists to a minimum of two months in jail for breaking into a nuclear power plant and setting off fireworks last year.

Greenpeace protesters jailed for fireworks stunt at French nuclear plant
Greenpeace activists on the opening day of a trial of eight activists and two heads of Greenpeace France. Photo: AFP
Six other protesters were handed five-month suspended sentences for the October stunt at the plant in Cattenom, near the border with Luxembourg, which was intended to show the facility's vulnerability to attack.
   
Greenpeace France, represented by local head Jean-Francois Julliard, was also fined 20,000 euros ($24,500) by the court in the northeastern town of Thionville.
   
“Greenpeace crossed a red line,” said prosecutor Christelle Dumont, adding that any debate about nuclear safety “must be in accordance with the law”.
   
Greenpeace lawyer Alexandre Faro said the protesters were fighting for ideals and “they do not deserve hard time in prison”.
   
The prosecution had requested six-month suspended sentences for six of the activists, including Greenpeace France's chief anti-nuclear campaigner Yannick Rousselet.
   
Non-suspended six-month sentences were requested for the two other activists, who had previously been convicted of breaking into two other French nuclear sites.
   
The eight activists broke into Cattenom before dawn on October 12, and the state-owned EDF energy company that operates the plant said the protesters were detained before they reached the nuclear zone, and that the plant's safety was not threatened.
   
Greenpeace said the fireworks were set off at the foot of a spent fuel pool — where nuclear plants store highly radioactive fuel rods that are removed from reactors after their use.
   
After Greenpeace activists broke into another nuclear plant in November, the French government opened a parliamentary inquiry into nuclear safety and security.

ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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