Activists move on presidential debate

02 May 2012

A Greenpeace stunt has seen a paraglider drop smoke bombs on the Bugey nuclear power plant in France. It comes hours before a televised debate between President Nicolas Sarkozy and election rival Francois Hollande in which nuclear power will be discussed.

Shortly before 8am this morning a paraglider carrying one man circled over the Bugey plant, dropping a smoke bomb onto the top of one of the reactor buildings. The campaign group said this illustrated the "vulnerability of nuclear power plants to threats from the air."

The small craft then crash-landed in non-nuclear part of the plant, said EDF. Police stepped in immediately and apprehended the man within minutes, said the company, stating that the safety of the plant was not threatened at any time. EDF said the security response was speeded by upgrades brought in by the last high-profile breach of security - also carried out by Greenpeace.

Greenpeace action at Bugey (Greenpeace) 460x321
The attack on Bugey was simulated, but the debate on France's nuclear future is real
(Image: Greenpeace)

Today's action may highlight the debate on energy and nuclear power between presidential election hopefuls, the social-democratic Francois Hollande and the centre-right encumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. The pair came first and second in the first round of voting, held on 22 April and will face each other in the second round on 6 May.

During his term of office Sarkozy has been a highly visible supporter of nuclear power, hosting international conferences, helping 'Team France' export nuclear goods and services abroad and authorising the construction of two new reactors at home. By contrast Hollande's campaign has seen him make a policy of reducing nuclear's role from today's 75% to around 50% of generated electricity by around 2030 as a concession to the Greens. Observers, however, doubt Hollande would take strong action against nuclear during Europe's current period of economic stagnation, and he has agreed to the completion of Flamanville 3.

The Fessenheim nuclear power plant, France's oldest and also the closest to Germany, is at the forefront of debate. Sarkozy has said he would follow the advice of regulators concerning its continued operation, while Hollande has said he would order it closed before the end of his term.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News