Activists target older European units

05 March 2014

Greenpeace activists have intruded onto the sites of some of Europe's oldest nuclear power plants. The stunt coincided with the publication of a Greenpeace-commissioned report into the safety of ageing reactors.

Beznau - Greenpeace action March 2014 - 460 (Greenpeace)
Protesters unfurl banners on a reactor building at the Beznau plant (Image: Greenpeace)

According to Greenpeace, some 240 protesters carried out simultaneous actions early this morning at the Beznau plant in Switzerland, the Bugey and Gravelines plants in France, Oskarshamn in Sweden, Tihange in Belgium, Garoña in Spain and Borssele in the Netherlands.

About 100 activists are said to have entered the Beznau site, with two managing to hang a banner on the reactor building of one of the plant's two units. Meanwhile, a microlight aircraft flew above the site, also displaying a banner. The Beznau plant is the oldest operating nuclear plant in the world, its two units starting operation in 1969 and 1972.

In Sweden, some 20 activists used ladders to scale the fence around the Oskarshamn plant. Six of them then climbed to the top of one of the plant's three reactor buildings and unfurled a banner. All the activists were subsequently apprehended by security guards and police.

Meanwhile, several people were arrested for trespassing at the Tihange plant in Belgium while in France EDF reported that 18 people were arrested by police before they managed to get through the fence surrounding the Gravelines plant. Nuclenor, operator of the Garoña plant in Spain, said that a group of people held a demonstration outside of the plant for several hours.

Greenpeace is calling for all nuclear reactors that are older than their initial design lifetime to be decommissioned.

European nuclear trade group Foratom notes that there are currently 132 operating nuclear power reactors in Europe and that more than 40% of these will reach 40 years of operation in the next decade.

"Extending the life of nuclear power plants is in the best interests of consumers and a sensible option for most power producers to maintain their production capacity," it said. "Long-term operation under safe conditions will ensure the backbone of the EU's low-carbon economy remains."

A 2011 study on long-term operation of reactors by the Western European Nuclear Regulator's Association concluded, "There is no real cliff edge effect neither in the level of safety or technical degradation due to ageing when reaching the original design lifetime."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News