Anti-Nuclear Protesters Infiltrate French Reactor on Eve of Security Summit

Global Security Newswire Staff
March 18, 2014, 9:11 a.m.

Anti-nuc­le­ar pro­test­ers on Tues­day in­filt­rated a French atom­ic en­ergy plant, sig­nal­ing that such sites re­main po­ten­tially vul­ner­able to ter­ror­ists.

Some 60 Green­peace act­iv­ists tres­passed on the grounds of the Fessen­heim nuc­le­ar site, not far from the Ger­man bor­der. More than 200 po­lice of­ficers were sent to the aging atom­ic-en­ergy com­plex to try to dis­lodge the pro­test­ers, some of whom man­aged to climb on top of the roof of one of the site’s build­ings, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted.

Plant op­er­at­or Elec­tri­cite de France said the pro­test­ers were not able to enter any of the site’s build­ings. French atom­ic safety agency ASN said the Green­peace protest did not have “any im­pact on the safety of the fa­cil­ity.”

Though the pur­pose of the protest was to con­demn France’s con­tin­ued re­li­ance on nuc­le­ar en­ergy, such dis­plays also high­light the phys­ic­al ac­cess points that ex­trem­ist groups might at­tempt to ex­ploit. An act of re­act­or sab­ot­age holds the po­ten­tial of caus­ing a wide­spread re­lease of harm­ful ra­dio­act­ive con­tam­in­ants.

Tues­days’ nuc­le­ar-plant in­tru­sion comes ahead of a meet­ing of world lead­ers next week in the Neth­er­lands, where they will as­sess pro­gress in se­cur­ing sens­it­ive atom­ic sub­stances from feared theft by ter­ror­ists.

A draft com­mu­nique for the March 24-25 Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Sum­mit urges par­ti­cip­at­ing na­tions to do more to re­duce the non­mil­it­ary use of highly en­riched urani­um, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Monday.

“We en­cour­age states to con­tin­ue to min­im­ize the use of HEU through the con­ver­sion of re­act­or fuel from HEU to [low-en­riched urani­um], where tech­nic­ally and eco­nom­ic­ally feas­ible,” reads the draft state­ment, ob­tained by Re­u­ters.

The third sum­mit of its kind will in­clude par­ti­cip­a­tion by lead­ers from 53 na­tions.

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