Bloomberg News

Greenpeace Breach of EDF Nuclear Sites ‘Unacceptable’

December 07, 2011

(Updates with comment from minister in second paragraph.)

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Security at French nuclear installations will be tightened after Greenpeace activists broke into two Electricite de France SA atomic plants, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

“This was not acceptable,” Gueant said today in parliament. “Rules on the security of all sensitive installations including nuclear will be reviewed.”

Greenpeace campaigners broke into the plants on Dec. 5 to highlight what the environmental group said was a lack of security. The intruders spent about four hours in the Nogent- sur-Seine plant southeast of Paris and about 14 hours inside the grounds of the Cruas installation, the organization has said. EDF has confirmed the intrusions. A probe is ongoing, Gueant said.

France’s nuclear regulator is carrying out safety checks at atomic installations in France to determine whether they are safe following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima station. The audits are examining whether the sites are able to withstand earthquakes, floods and loss of power and cooling systems.

Their scope should be widened to test for other risks such as terrorist attacks, plane crashes and computer bugs, Greenpeace said.

Fukushima Aftermath

“The police chose not to use force against the intruders so as not to put lives in danger,” according to Gueant, referring to the break-in at Nogent-sur-Seine. “The physical integrity of the site was never threatened and no one was able to penetrate into the area where nuclear energy is produced.”

Greenpeace and EDF have been in conflict for years over France’s power production, more than three-quarters of which is nuclear. Atomic safety has received more scrutiny in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, with opposition parties in France calling for some reactors to be shut down.

A surprise visit to EDF’s Paluel nuclear plant by the atomic regulator last week uncovered safety shortcomings in an exercise simulating the need to restart power during an accident.

The exercise “didn’t comply with the expected exactness” required for an accident procedure, the regulator said in a document published on its website. Procedural rules weren’t clear in some cases and keys for some equipment were missing, the regulator said in a letter to EDF asking for modifications.

--Editors: Alex Devine, Stephen Cunningham

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tara Patel at tpatel2@bloomberg.net


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