More than 20 Greenpeace activists climbed fences to break into an EDF nuclear power plant in southern France and demanded its closure, the environmental campaign group has said.
The activists, dressed in red, broke into the Tricastin plant at dusk on Sunday and unfurled a yellow and black banner on the wall with the words: “Tricastin, nuclear accident – president of the catastrophe?” above a picture of the president, François Hollande.
“With this action, Greenpeace is asking François Hollande to close the Tricastin plant, which is among the five most dangerous in France,” Yannick Rousselet, in charge of nuclear issues for Greenpeace France, said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for EDF denied the activists had reached two of the plant’s reactors and said that by 8.30am local time on Monday, 17 of them had been arrested for unauthorised access. Others clung on to metal structures and ladders, she said.
The Tricastin plant, one of the most important sites in France, is spread over 650 hectares in picturesque south-east France. In July 2008, an accident at a treatment centre next to the plant saw liquid containing untreated uranium overflow out of a faulty tank during a draining operation. The same month around 100 staff at Tricastin’s nuclear reactor number four were contaminated by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe. EDF, which runs the site, described the contamination as “slight”.
Hollande has pledged to cut the share of nuclear energy in the country’s electricity mix to 50% from 75% by 2025. He also said he wanted to close the country’s oldest plant at Fessenheim, near the German border, by 2017.
Greenpeace said that to honour his promise, Hollande would have to close at least 10 reactors by 2017 and 20 by 2020. The campaign group said this ought to include Tricastin, which was built more than 30 years ago.
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