Police arrested dozens of anti-nuclear campaigners after they entered France’s oldest atomic plant, operator Electricite de France SA (EDF) said.
More than 60 Greenpeace protesters stormed the site at Fessenheim near the German border before dawn and unfurled a banner that read “Stop Risking Europe,” the organization said. Some used ladders to scale fences. Fifty-seven were arrested.
“The event didn’t have an impact on safety at the installation,” the French atomic-energy regulator Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said in a statement. An EDF spokesman said there was no effect on power production because the intruders didn’t access electricity generating areas.
Greenpeace and EDF are at odds over power output in France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country. Following security breaches by activists in 2011 and 2012, EDF set aside at least 400 million euros ($556 million) to tighten defenses at its 19 plants including fences, dogs and electronic surveillance.
The incident at Fessenheim “has shone a spotlight on the vulnerability of our nuclear installations,” Greens party EELV said in a statement, which thanked Greenpeace for its effort. Two ministers of President Francois Hollande’s government are members of the EELV.
French defense authorities will open an inquiry into the intrusion and the government plans to strengthen security at reactors, Energy Minister Philippe Martin said in a statement. Operators of atomic sites will be asked to further fortify “sensitive zones” with measures such as electric fences.
Europe’s atomic plants have come under more scrutiny since the Fukushima meltdown in Japan three years ago. Germany ordered the phaseout of its nuclear fleet, making it more dependent on coal, while EDF was ordered to bolster safety at the Fessenheim site, which is slated for shutdown at the end of 2016.
“Aging nuclear reactors, coal plants in Germany and eastern Europe must be abandoned in favor of massive development of renewable energy,” Greenpeace energy campaigner Cyrille Cormier said in a statement.
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