Nuclear Opponent Exposes French Reactor Security Vulnerability: Greenpeace

An antinuclear activist on Wednesday used a paraglider to fly close to a French atomic energy plant, where he dropped a smoke device on the roof a reactor in an apparent effort to highlight site defense vulnerabilities that could be exploited by terrorists in an airstrike, Reuters reported (see GSN, Jan. 9).

French utility EDF verified a Greenpeace-affiliated man had flown into its Bugey atomic energy facility in the southeastern part of the country. After loosing his flare, the activist touched down inside the site, according to video recordings.

"At no time was the safety of the installation at risk," EDF said in formal comments. The man was apprehended by authorities at the site, the company said  (Leveque/de La Hamaide, Reuters, May 2).

The French energy provider insists it has adequate protections in place at the Bugey site and that security was "strengthened in late 2011 (to) allow detection and immediate apprehension of the perpetrator," the Associated Press reported (Associated Press/Washington Post, May 2).

"This over flight shows the vulnerability of the French nuclear site to an air attack," Reuters quoted Greenpeace nuclear affairs spokeswoman Sophia Majnoni d'Intignano as saying in provided comments. "While Germany took account of a plane crash in its safety tests, France still refuses to analyze this risk for our reactors."

Meanwhile, in France's southwest, a man was able to infiltrate the Civaux atomic installation via the truck entrance; he remained undetected for an hour even though he was in the site's "surveillance zone," according to EDF.

In December, Greenpeace members snuck into the Nogent-sur-Seine atomic energy production site, where they scaled a structure that contains a reactor. Other atomic sites were also infiltrated.

Concerns about a terrorist attack that might release deadly levels of radiation from a reactor increased in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes in the United States. European states including France were set to examine safety levels at nuclear plants following the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Such tests, though, were not intended to address terrorist assaults or the threat of an aircraft flying into a reactor, according to Reuters (Leveque/de La Hamaide, Reuters).

 

May 3, 2012
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An antinuclear activist on Wednesday used a paraglider to fly close to a French atomic energy plant, where he dropped a smoke device on the roof a reactor in an apparent effort to highlight site defense vulnerabilities that could be exploited by terrorists in an airstrike, Reuters reported.

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