LONDON - More than 30 anti-nuclear protesters used ropes, ladders and wire-cutters to break into the central control building of a nuclear power station in eastern England on Monday, the environmental group Greenpeace said.
Greenpeace, which campaigns for an end to nuclear energy, said it staged the break-in to expose poor security at the Sizewell B plant and other nuclear facilities.
"It is a terrifying thought that if we can do this then anyone can," said Rob Gueterbock, one of the protesters who occupied the plant's roof during the daylong demonstration. "We wouldn't do anything to interfere with the plant, but if terrorists targeted a nuclear power station it would be deadly."
Greenpeace campaigners scale the dome containing the pressurized water reactor at Sizewell B nuclear power station, near Leiston, Suffolk, England, Monday, Jan. 13, 2003. Nineteen Greenpeace protesters earlier entered the building and said their action is to highlight poor security at Britain's nuclear power plants and their vulnerability to terrorist attacks, not to tamper with the power station's operations. (AP Photo/Andrew Parsons/PA)
Mike Harrison, maintenance manager at Sizewell B, condemned the protest as a stunt.
"It is a totally irresponsible and criminal act which has caused damage to the insulation after a fence was broken through and a door smashed," Harrison said, adding the protesters gained limited access to the plant.
"At no time was there any risk to plant safety or public safety."
Suffolk police said the demonstration ended peacefully. Officers arrested 12 protesters, the force said.
Greenpeace said the protesters entered the complex from a public beach just after 6 a.m. (0600 GMT) by cutting through a wire fence. Some climbed onto the roof of the reactor dome, while others entered the central control building.
"The aim was to demonstrate the ease with which lightly equipped, peaceful individuals can gain access to the most sensitive areas of a nuclear power station," Greenpeace campaigns director Blake Lee-Harwood said.
"Britain is sending troops into a war. We have a war on terror. The British nuclear industry is meant to be on the highest state of alert. But it was essentially a breeze to get in," he said.
In October, more than 100 Greenpeace activists broke into the Sizewell B plant. Several climbed onto the roof of the building housing the cooling water pump, unfurling banners saying "No More Nuclear." They climbed down after a day and were arrested by police.
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press