Greenpeace activists arrested protesting aging European nuclear reactors

Photo by Greenpeace France

Photo by Greenpeace France

from Greenpeace

On Tuesday, March 18 at 5:50 a.m., 60 Greenpeace activists from France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Poland staged an occupation of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant,  France’s oldest nuclear power station.   They criticized the risk that French nuclear power poses to the whole of Europe, and called on the French government, which has programmed the closure of the Alsatian power station, to bring about a real change in energy policy in France.   Some activists first displayed a banner at the side of Reactor 1, while others climbed up the side of the reactor pool of Reactor 1 and onto the reactor dome.  Once there, the activists unfurled a banner which was 200 metres square and read, “Stop risking Europe”. They stayed in place holding this banner for four hours.  Twenty of the activists were arrested.

Photo by Greenpeace France

Photo by Greenpeace France

At 11:45 a.m., 20 Greenpeace activists on board dinghies deployed a floating banner 32 metres square with the message, “Future is renewable! Stop Nuclear!” at the base of the power station along the Rhine Canal.

Two days before the European summit on March 20 which should decide the future of energy in Europe, European citizens demand that François Hollande and Angela Merkel commit their countries and the whole of Europe to a real transformation in energy production, freeing it from the risk posed by nuclear and basing it on renewables.

France and Germany must impose on all European states the goal of 45% of energy production from renewables by 2030.  At the same time, there must be an end to the risk posed by nuclear, which grows with the aging of nuclear power plants.


Thanks to David Polden, Adapted from a blog by Isadora Wronski, Powershift Energy Nuclear Coordinator at Greenpeace Nordic

On March 5th, in the run up to the 3rd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster (March 11, 2011), 240 Greenpeace activists took action across Europe to highlight the risk of aging nuclear reactors.

Eighty activists staged a decommissioning of the Tihange reactor in Belgium.  A message was projected on a cooling tower while “decommissioning teams” entered the site, including ten climbers, who unfolded banners between the chimneys of the reactors.  Fifty activists also placed a large nuclear barrel and various smaller barrels at the main entrance.

In Switzerland, about 100 Greenpeace activists from six countries entered Beznau nuclear plant.  They climbed the superstructure of the reactor and hung banners demanding the immediate shut-down of the 45-year-old power plant while a paraglider circled in the sky holding a banner.

In Sweden, 20 activists entered the Oskarshamn nuclear plant and four climbers unfolded a massive banner in the shape of a “pension notification letter” from the top of the reactor roof.  Sweden has four of the ten oldest and most worn reactors in Europe.

In Spain, 30 activists started to “decommission” the Garoña nuclear plant. Protesters chained themselves to the gates and unfolded banners as workers from the plant sprayed them with water cannons.

In the Netherlands, an animation of stress cracks and crumbling was projected onto the Borselle plant in the south of the country.

Photo by Greenpeace France - March 5, 2014

Photo by Greenpeace France

In France a “decommissioning team” symbolically blocked the entrance to the Bugey station(see above) and started to ‘decommission’ the plant by taking down signs.

Arrests were reported at many places: 20 in Belgium, 24 in Sweden, 9 in Spain and 23 in France.  For short videos of the actions, see link:

The aim of the actions was to highlight the dangers which the aging of many of Europe’s nuclear plants poses to Europe and the planet.  Greenpeace contends that as many as 44% of Europe’s reactors are just too old to still be on line.  Out of 151 operational reactors in EU, 66 are more than 30 years old, 25 are more than 35 years old and 7 are more than 40 years old.  Greenpeace demands that reactors older than their initial design lifetime be closed immediately and no further lifetime extensions be granted.

Decrepit reactors are still in operation in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK.  Governments and regulators in these countries need to protect Europe’s citizens from the risk of a Fukushima tragedy in a Europe which is densely populated.

Europe can’t rely on old reactors to deliver the carbon reductions needed to save the climate. We need binding European and national targets of 45% renewables and 55% carbon emissions cuts by 2030.