Authorities in France have taken 29 Greenpeace activists into custody under charges of trespassing at the Tricastin nuclear power plant. Tricastin houses four, 915 MW pressurized water reactors and is operated by EDF.
According to reports, the activists breached the site just before dawn on Monday in a stunt aimed at revealing the vulnerability of French nuclear power sites and calling for Tricastin’s closure.
The group entered the site and was able to project anti-nuclear images onto the reactor 1 cooling tower and later in the day scale an exterior structure to display a banner picturing French President Francois Hollander and the question "President of Catastrophe?”
On its French liveblog, Greenpeace provided updates, multiple photos and videos of the event as it unfolded over the course of nearly six hours at Tricastin. The site reported just before noon local time that the last of its climbers were being dislodged.
The event is another embarrassing turn for France’s government and nuclear industry, following similar breaches by Greenpeace in 2011 at the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear site and a smoke-bombing by a paraglider at the Bugey nuclear plant in 2012.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls has called for a probe into the incident; however, both plant operator EDF and France’s nuclear safety agency (ASN) were quick to establish the incident did not impact Tricastin’s safety or operations.
France is heavily dependent upon nuclear power, with the International Energy Agency reporting the resource as responsible for over threequarters of the nation’s electric power generation.