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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