france drone nuclear plant

Greenpeace crashes superman drone into French nuclear power plant

Image credit: reuters

A drone clothed in a superman costume was deliberately crashed into a French nuclear plant yesterday as part of a Greenpeace protest designed to demonstrate its vulnerability to outside attacks.

The demonstrators flew the drone past the no-fly zone at the Bugey nuclear power plant, 25kms from Lyon.

They then proceeded to crash it into the wall of the spent fuel storage pool, adjacent to reactor 2.

“This action is highly symbolic: it shows that used fuel storage pools are very easily accessible, this time by air, and therefore eminently vulnerable to the risk of external attacks” said Yannick Rousselet, campaign manager for Greenpeace France, in a statement (translated for use here by Google Translate).

“What if it was not a drone disguised as a Superman and driven by non-violent activists? EDF wants to believe that its facilities would withstand a [jumbo jet crash]. In reality, it is not so! Simply because these buildings were designed in the ’70s and at the time of their construction the external threat was not taken into account and the pools have not been equipped with an enclosed, robust confinement.”

France generates 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power in 19 nuclear plants operated by state-controlled EDF.

EDF said that two drones had flown over the Bugey site, of which one had been intercepted by French police.

“The presence of these drones had no impact on the security of the installations,” EDF said, adding that it will file a police complaint.

The drone stunt follows a series of staged break-ins by Greenpeace activists into French nuclear plants, which Greenpeace says are vulnerable to outside attack, especially the spent-fuel pools. These pools can hold the equivalent of several reactor cores, stored in concrete pools outside the highly reinforced reactor building.

EDF said the spent-fuel pool buildings are robust and designed to withstand natural disasters and accidents.

Greenpeace’s security breaches have sparked a parliament investigation into nuclear security, which is due to present its report on Thursday.

In October 2017, Greenpeace activists broke through two security barriers and launched fireworks over EDF’s Cattenom nuclear plant.

In February 2018, a French court gave several Greenpeace activists suspended jail sentences, while ordering the group to pay a fine and €50,000 (£44,000) in damages to EDF.

In May 2017, EDF was forced to deny media reports that it intends to delay plans to reduce the amount of nuclear power in France’s energy mix by 25 years. 

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