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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant 561

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-thought-plant-meant-something-different dept.
dotancohen writes "Greenpeace activists secretly entered a French nuclear site before dawn and draped a banner reading 'Hey' and 'Easy' on its reactor containment building, to expose the vulnerability of atomic sites in the country. Greenpeace said the break-in aimed to show that an ongoing review of safety measures, ordered by French authorities after a tsunami ravaged Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant earlier this year, was focused too narrowly on possible natural disasters, and not human factors."
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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant

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  • by slapout (93640) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:58PM (#38273378)

    And if they'd gotten shot doing this, would they be saying how mean the French are?

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:01PM (#38273428) Journal
    Nukes are not going away. Too many reasons to continue it. HOWEVER, between Japan and now this, I think that France requires some massive upgrades. However, job #1 MUST BE SECRUITY.

    And these ppl should NOT be ripped for this. THey should be scolded publicly and then privately thanked.
  • good grief.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:03PM (#38273480)
    And when one of these fuckers gets smoked by GIGN or whatever the French use for this sort of thing, I don't want to hear the damned whining of bleeding hearts on the interweb.
  • A very clever plan. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kaenneth (82978) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:12PM (#38273604) Homepage Journal

    That involved being on the other side of this airtight hatch.

    How long would it take to actually penetrate the containment building?

    From Wikipedia:

    The containment building itself is typically an airtight steel structure enclosing the reactor normally sealed off from the outside atmosphere. The steel is either free-standing or attached to the concrete missile shield. In the United States, the design and thickness of the containment and the missile shield are governed by federal regulations (10 CFR 50.55a), and must be strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:25PM (#38273812)

    They are quite sane, but they are also confrontational.

    Given that NON-confrontational methods don't work, and that GP are serious, why not up the ante?

    They demonstrated French nuke security sucks, so their objective was accomplished.

    They could just as easily have carried:

    Satchel charges including shaped demo charges and EFPs (can reach from a short distance to save time emplacing them) to breach containment and disable backup cooling systems or system power.
    Portable exothermic breaching kit to slice through security doors/locks.
    Small arms to dispose of any guards.

    They didn't, but they proved it practical. There is no "security" without ARMED defense on the spot. That applies to everything from nuclear reactors to your house or apartment. Unless you can halt opposing human attack by shutting down their central nervous systems, they are free to do their will.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:28PM (#38273846)

    I'd like to see how that "measurability" was established, considering that scientists can't even figure out if minor increase in radioactivity is net negative or net positive, as there are different factors at play, which represent both directions.

    Oh, you're probably referring to stuff like being exposed to elements for prolonged time, having to eat dirty food, and so on. Bad news: that was earthquake and tsunami. They also killed over thirty thousand people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

    There was this really funny research on survivors of people who were putting out Chernobyl fires. Of those who survived the ordeal and a couple of months after it (when most people who got lethal dose died), there was a greater portion of them alive now then there was of general population. This was (at least partially) attributed to significant increase in health checks of the rescue crews, which allowed medics to find many problems and fix them rather then have them evolve into something incurably lethal (as is the case with many cancers).

    So should we now state that Fukushima accident will likely increase life expectancy of the workers who were fixing it like it was in Chernobyl. We'll know in a couple of decades.

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:34PM (#38273920) Journal

    measurably shortened life span

    You are wrong about the certitude of the shortened life expectancy. Marie-Curie who worked without any protection with Radium, Polonium and Uranium, died at 66. She was 1 years older than the US female average life expectancy at that time. You could counter argue that her husband, Pierre-Curie, died younger at 46. However his dead was the result of his skull crushed by the heavy wheel of an horse drawn cart, nothing to do with radiation at all...

    And Fukushima is not in the same league as Chernobyl. Therefore on what do you based this affirmed mesurability ?

  • Re:Great comments! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:36PM (#38273940)

    That's the whole point. Security was so lax nothing like that happened.

    Umm, no. Greenpeace called the French authorities and told them that they'd sent men sneaking into nuclear power plants, and the French authorities then stood down their snipers and allowed the Greenpeace guys to finish climbing the building and deploy their banner before arresting them.

    So, the phone call saved the lives of the Greenpeace protesters, which hardly shows that security of the plants was lax....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:38PM (#38273980)

    I wonder if coal plants put out more radioactivity in total when the whole life cycle of the plants are considered. Decommissioning nuclear power plants is both expensive and difficult, and according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_decommissioning#Cost_of_decommissioning) there have been cases where decommissioning have involved leaks despite huge investments in securing the dismantlement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:44PM (#38274042)
    On the contrary, I've never seen so many guns as during any of my trips to Europe. Particularly in airports, trainstations and around tourist spots. I think they're more paranoid than we are about the whole terrorism thing.

    And I can promise you, the farm I lived on briefly in France had a few firearms on premises. If I remember correctly, the Swiss have among the highest percentage of armed citizens you'll find.

    Don't let your TV spoon-feed you generalizations about very large and diverse places. They're often wrong.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:11PM (#38274356) Homepage Journal

    Funnily enough, the whole tongue-in-cheek thing was started by a frenchman
    I forget the exact details, but he was sarcastically complimenting an englishman on his "invention", that the french had actually done years before
    pressing your tongue lightly against your cheek prevented you from accidentally smiling after making a sarcastic comment

    Sabotage is also a French word - throwing shoes into the machinery.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:24PM (#38274516)

    It's worth noting that not only was there a major change, but there also is an issue of significantly increased checks for cancers commonly associated with irradiation (but which may or may not be caused by radiation), which in turn results in more findings of said cancers and ironically, more people that survive those cancers as they are found early enough to be able to treat them.

    Real killer in the territory around Chernobyl, and across all former USSR members is alcohol, and it's also by far the biggest factor in the shortening of life-spans (observable also by remarkable difference between average age of men vs women).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:45PM (#38274712)

    I don't know what "health physicist" is, but you're obviously completely ignorant of the large body of literature on the health consequences of Chernobyl. Before you lie about lack of impact from Chernobyl, please familiarize yourself with the large body of Russian research that has documented a very significant number of health issues in the affected areas. Here's a start for you: "20 yeaers after the Chernobyl accident: past, present and future" by Elena Burlakova, for example.

    Note also that most monitoring programs were significantly reduced in scale or terminated in the early 90s, long before most of the effects would begin to show up. We're not talking about radiation sickness here, mr. "health physicist".

  • by siddesu (698447) on Monday December 05, 2011 @09:00PM (#38274834)

    There is no "significantly more radiation around coal-fired plants" than around nuclear plants today, please stop misquoting that ancient article.

    First, the study you quote was made in the early 70s and published in 1978. Currently, coal plants are already fitted with filters (and have been since mid-80s, due to concerns other than radiation) that have reduced the emitted ash (and radioactive isotopes) to levels that are significantly less than what they were back then. The problem simply does not exist anymore.

    Second, the article you quote has this interesting title, but the actual research qualifies the title in two important ways. First, the "more radiation" part is only true when compared to a normally operating nuclear plant, and then only in a zone of up to 1.5 km downwind of the coal plant.

    A nuclear plant can release much more radiation than many coal-fired plants combined even in the course of a minor accident. In a catastrophic event like Chernobyl or Fukushima-I, the amounts released by the whole coal-fired industry circa 1978 will probably look insignificant next to what comes out of a single reactor.

    Third, the comparison in the study is for stuff that is actually released to the environment. It does not concern the highly radioactive waste that has to be disposed of securely through the life of the nuclear plants.

    I.e. the study is not only antiquated and true anymore, it was rather biased and misleading even when it was published for the first time. And the article in the "Scientific" American is a plain pro-nuke PR with no basis even in the 1978 reality.

  • What I find astonishing about Fukushima is learning that we've decided to keep nuclear waste in a manner that is not failsafe. That we need to actively cool.

    That is possibly the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. It's not like it's an infinite amount of heat.

    Spread it out, pour some iron on it, and put in some giant heat sinks or something.

    Christ, it's like everyone is an idiot or something. 'Hey, this generates a set amount of heat per second, forever, and if it ever gets above a certain temperature it will melt through things.'. 'Herp derp, let's pump water past it. There's no way that could go wrong.' 'Maybe we could rig it where it just distributes the heat to the air or the ground or something, which would only fail if the sun started consuming the earth and heated the atmosphere up massively?' 'Nope, takes too much space. Water pump, that's the plan!'

    I understand reactors having problems when shut down, but the waste? Seriously?

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:08PM (#38275406)

    Sniping people should NOT be the first response.

    Yeah, they should definitely let terrorists get into the reactor and blow it up rather than risk shooting a lefty retard who's out for a publicity stunt.

  • by adamofgreyskull (640712) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:02PM (#38275774)
    Hang on, let's play "spot the difference" shall we?
    - sending a special-forces team onto a private vessel in dock in an allied nation to scuttle it with explosive charges.
    - shooting TRESPASSERS infiltrating a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT on FRENCH SOIL.

    "Inviting" them back before shooting them is the only PR problem I see in the GP's plan.

    It appears that the only reason they weren't shot this time is because Greenpeace called in and said "don't shoot, they're only hanging banners". Quite why they didn't shoot, regardless, is beyond me. Even if Greenpeace have their own secret codeword for claiming responsibility like a terrorist organisation would, they've been infiltrated so many times that such a codeword could well be in the hands of even more dangerously stupid people.

    Ironically it seems the French government's/security forces' fear of bad PR is what prevented the protestors being shot down which would have solved the security "problem" before they could hang their banners. Still this is good news for Algerian separatists, foreign spies etc, all they need do is take a banner with them and claim to be with Greenpeace whenever they try to infiltrate a French nuclear power plant.
  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:02AM (#38276188) Homepage

    Suppose you did. This is a 100psi+ containment building you're talking about. What would you expect to accomplish... maybe scratch the paint?

    There is no man-portable weapon that is a real threat to a nuclear facility.

  • by khallow (566160) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @03:54AM (#38277250)

    The massive stockpiles of highly radioactive waste that continue to accumulate also represent a not-so-slowly increasing risk.

    That's not a risk from nuclear power, but from public hysteria. I think it's deeply hypocritical for society to deliberately worsen a safety issue at nuclear plants while simultaneously complaining about the safety of nuclear plants. My view is that waives the public's right to not be harmed by leaks from that particular failure mode,

    A similar thing goes on with the public's resistance to building new nuclear plants. It's far harder to decomission a nuclear plant when there is no replacement for it (whether nuclear, fossil fuel, or alternative energy). That leads to nuclear plants operating for longer than they probably should be.

    Fukushima is a classic example of both failures of society in action. The plant was originally planned to be at least mostly decommissioned by the time of the tsunami and the fuel rods were stored on site, which made the problem worse.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @06:58AM (#38277974) Homepage

    Christ on a crutch. This is why people are advocating for newer, cleaner, safer designs!

    TFA mentions that Greenpeace's aim was to demonstrate that no matter how safe you make the reactor design you can't make security perfect at the plant, let alone when transporting nuclear material.

    You also have to consider the commercial viability of new designs, particularly Thorium which is the only option that is approaching clean and meltdown-proof. It would take a decade and tens of billions to get the first commercial Thorium reactor up and running, and demand is already falling. Plus you can only sell it to a very limited number of countries where as renewables have a global market. It just does't make economic sense, and even if it did that wouldn't stop it being prone to major accidents, natural disasters or deliberate attacks.

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