Charging that the time for a transition to renewable energy is now, over 60 activists with Greenpeace occupied on Tuesday France's oldest working nuclear power plant.
The group unfurled a banner that reads "Stop Risking Europe" at the 37-year-old Fessenheim plant located near the Swiss and German border.
The aging plant, which the group says is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding, must be closed. But that plant "is a symbol," stated Cyrille Cormier, head of the Energy campaign for Greenpeace France. "Its announced closure should be just the start of a series of closures of reactors across Europe to limit risks" and "really start an energy transition," Cormier stated.
Police arrested 57 of the activists.
The action at Fessenheim comes on the heels of a Greenpeace report that warned that continued operation of Europe's aging nuclear fleet threatens millions of people with a "new era of risk."
Justin McKeating, who writes on nuclear issues at Greenpeace, adds:
France’s President Hollande has promised to shut Fessenheim by 2016 and says he aims to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. Despite these assurances, extensions of some reactors’ planned lifetimes to beyond 40 years are currently being discussed in France.
We’re demanding Mr Hollande keep his promise by limiting maximum reactor lifetimes to 40 years by law and ensuring more nuclear plants are shut down.
With climate change upon us it should really go without saying that Europe needs a real energy transition based on renewable energy. This needs to happen fast.
"Aging nuclear power plants in France and coal plants in Germany and eastern Europe should be abandoned in favor of massive development in renewable energy throughout Europe," Cormier added. "It's the only option to lead towards a true job-creating, economically-beneficial energy transition."