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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 ackthpt (218170) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:57PM (#38273354) Homepage Journal

    Said, with tongue firmly in cheek.

    • by Ynot_82 (1023749) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#38273696)

      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

      • 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 BlackPignouf (1017012) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @06:18AM (#38277788)

          Well, some 25-40% of English words are of French origin, so this thread could easily become the longest ever on /.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:59PM (#38273398)

      If they'd gotten shot they probably wouldn't be talking at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If they were shot, they would be more proof how dangerous nuclear power plants are. The accident would double the victims of nuclear power in the recent decade!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by forkfail (228161)

        Depends on how you look at things.

        If you count measurably shortened life span, though, the folks around Fukushima might argue with you about impact.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#38273692) Journal

          but the expanded life span due to having heat on demand and the ability to light you home at night with something other than smoky fires counters that as well.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:19PM (#38273732)
          If we're going to start counting 'measurably shortened lifespan' (if you have links to sources that prove this is the case then please, by all means), then the numbers for coal and oil would also climb, probably by a lot more. Working around burning coal or mining it (black lung will put you down a few years early) and near oil refineries is not kind to the human body. Solar and Wind will (of course) be better in this regards, but this doesn't solve the underlying issue of scale.
          • by forkfail (228161) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:35PM (#38273936)

            Not claiming that coal doesn't kill through pollution, too. Claiming that nuclear never kills, including by accidental emission and mishandling of waste, however, is naive and deceptive.

            Probably would have been better had I used Chernobyl as opposed to Fukushima for my example; those statistics are in and readily available.

            • by camperdave (969942) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:54PM (#38274138) Journal
              Nobody is saying that. What people are saying is that since its advent, fewer people have died from nuclear power than coal, even if you count Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
              • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @04:44AM (#38277462) Homepage

                Nuclear apologists seem to be fixated on this comparison with coal, but as the GP said it is highly misleading and a straw man. Greenpeace, or the mainstream green movement for that matter, are not arguing for more coal. They are arguing for clean and reliable energy.

                Look at Japan, a nation heavily dependent on nuclear power because it has few natural resources. 80% of their reactors are still offline but the country has not reverted to the stone age. I was there in the immediate aftermath and people had to cut down energy usage, but the country coped. Now they have lifted most of the restrictions, so it just goes to show that even when forced to drop most nuclear power with no warning or preparation it won't completely cripple a country.

                • by dj245 (732906) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:20AM (#38279934) Homepage
                  Disclaimer- I work for Toshiba Power Systems (Steam turbines)

                  While it is true that Japan has a functioning grid now without most of their nuclear units, you can not look only at that fact. To get back to minimum capacity, they had to restart many of their old coal plants which had been partially or recently decommissioned. These plants were shut down because they were really filthy, and more expensive than nuclear- Japan imports 100% of their coal.

                  They restarted some of their old hydro facilities also. Mostly those were shut down because of environmental reasons also. They are lucky that they were only recently shut down and the dams were not demolished yet.

                  They borrowed a bunch of portable power units (generators in a container) from Taiwan, and purchased many also. These are diesel generators or gas turbines mounted in a container, producing maybe 3 to 7MW apiece. I am not sure about the details of Japan's pollution laws, but in the US, these container generators are only allowed to run in extreme emergencies, or for less than a few dozen hours a year since they have very little pollution controls.

                  The conservation effort is also still in progress, but maybe you didn't notice it. Our factory still has power saving measures in place, mostly relating to lighting and heating/cooling. I was there recently and working at a desk in my winter jacket might not have been "the stone age", but it was not very comfortable.

                  I did a quick calculation on how much energy would be saved by the earthquake victims and their companies not using electricity, but this is not that significant (around 25MW). Apologies if this is insensitive.

                  The country is still on the edge of a stable grid also. There is a big concern that later in the winter when it is much colder, there might be a big problem. Most Japanese apartments and houses use electric-based heating. In the summer, cutting off the AC might be a viable, if uncomfortable option, but you can't let people freeze.
            • by Terrasque (796014)

              Probably would have been better had I used Chernobyl as opposed to Fukushima for my example; those statistics are in and readily available.

              Well... According to the Wikipedia Charnobyl disaster effects [wikipedia.org] page, the reports vary from 62 deaths (UNSCEAR) to 985,000 deaths (New York Academy of Sciences). Not exactly a clear-cut case.

              Also, as a comparison; Banqiao Dam in China (hydro power). The dam failure there killed an estimated 171,000 people.

        • 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 forkfail (228161)

            Radioactivity is possibly healthy for you? Wow. Somehow, I'm reminded of the Chesterfield Cigareette adds from the '50's....

        • 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 ?

          • by Jeremi (14640) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:02PM (#38274238) Homepage

            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.

            Okay, the first problem is that you are trying to make an argument based on an anecdote. A single case does not a trend make, one way or the other. But even if we ignore that, you're still doing it wrong: to do it right, you'd have to compare Marie Curie's actual lifespan against the lifespan Marie Curie would have attained had she not suffered from radiation poisoning. Comparing her lifespan against the average woman's lifespan is meaningless because Mme Curie was not the average woman -- no woman is. You might as well argue that getting a piano dropped on your head is harmless as long as you are 65 or older when it happens.

          • by sunspot42 (455706)

            She was 1 years older than the US female average life expectancy at that time.

            Life expectancy for a woman who was Mme Curie's age when she started working with radioactive stuff, or life expectancy at birth? Because childhood diseases and accidents were still a substantial source of overall mortality in Mme Curie's day, and life expectancy at birth was heavily influenced by that reality. Those who made it to adulthood had life expectancies far more comparable to today's (heart disease and cancer - two maj

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:42PM (#38274022)

          If Fukushima ends up having a cancer impact outside the error bars on normal cancer, as a health physicist, I will be shocked. Even Chernobyl was murky healthwise (besides the few children killed by iodine, and we watch closely for that now that we know its a risk), and leading opponents of nuclear have already started warning people that not seeing an impact doesn't mean there wasn't one. Which is true, hence our use of highly conservative models for these incidents. But to imply widespread cancer increases due to Fukushima is to be disingenuous at best and a liar at worst. I mean for Gods sake, even among the survivors of the atomic bombs the cancer incidence rate was such a small blip it is widely considered to be statistically useless.

        • by Tyrannosaur (2485772) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:47PM (#38274072)

          yeah accidents to measurably shorten life spans, but in day-to-day runnings there is significantly more radiation around coal-fired plants than by nuclear plants.
          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste [scientificamerican.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by siddesu (698447)

            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 a

        • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:02AM (#38276198) Homepage

          Versus what, the residents of West Virginia, China, or anywhere else where coal is the predominant source of electricity?

          People are stupid. "Nuclear power is dangerous, look at Fukishima". The following month, a nuclear power plant (IIRC of the same vintage) in Omaha, Nebraska was flooded. No permanent harm came of the flooding. Why was that not "big news"?

          The problem is that the Japanese put too much stock in their government, and their nuclear reactors were both out of date and ill maintained. This tragedy has been used politically well beyond the scope of the problem. The problem wasn't nuclear power, it was incompetence and negligence.

          People talk about there being a "good, green alternative". I've got news for you: there are nuclear reactor designs which can take weapons grade whatever and turn it into relatively inert materials, all while being designed in a fashion which does not allow for a meltdown to occur using passive safety methods and different approaches in the reactors. China is doing this. France, to a limited degree, is doing this.

          There's also talk about nuke power being expensive. Why is it expensive? The impoverished (relatively) Chinese seem to think it's an economically feasible situation, even though they've got more than enough coal and hydroelectric to power things completely if they wanted to. Is it more expensive than the loss of health, longevity, environment, and mental accuity that other power methods produce? Not really.

          The real truth here is that Greenpeace is a group of crazed radicals. They burn industrial complexes in the name of saving the environment, kill animals off in the name of preserving them (particularly through subsidiaries like PETA), and protest the only clear, viable power source we have for the future (the US has hundreds of years of nuclear power in nuclear waste alone).

    • by ackthpt (218170)

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

      The French government has no need to underscore how mean they can be to Greenpeace [wikipedia.org] Ever been in the Paris Metro and see the soldiers with the rifles, just waiting for someone to start some trouble? You'll now see them inside the N-plants. Well played GP.

      • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#38273698)
        I think that's kind of the point: to get them to secure the place.
        • by Spykk (823586) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:32PM (#38273896)
          I think the point was to generate press coverage. Greenpeace's greatest cause is self-promotion.
          • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:49AM (#38276432) Homepage Journal

            I think the point was to generate press coverage. Greenpeace's greatest cause is self-promotion.

            Close. Greenpeace's main tactic is publicity: Doing showy stunts that bring popular attention to issues they deem to be important.

            So yeah, they want press coverage. That's their schtick.

            I worked for Greenpeace in the 1980s, and let me tell you, there is a LOT to complain about with this organisation. But this action is not one of them. It's a classic hacker tactic, showing with a single action what a thousand words of dry exposition could never convey: Civilian nuclear technology in France is not adequately secured.

            Everybody seems to focus on the 'Green' part of their name and ignore the 'Peace'. Greenpeace was actually founded by a bunch of folks on the West Coast of Canada [wikipedia.org] who wanted to block underground nuclear tests in a tectonically unstable section of Alaska. Rather than march and Occupy and write letters and etc., they just got into a boat and sailed toward the test site. The front pages were covered with headlines to the effect of 'Who Are These Wackos', but in the process they got people to think about the dangers of nuclear testing in a geologically unsuitable location.

            I have no truck whatsoever with the insanely stupid 'Save the Seals' crap that Paul Watson [wikipedia.org] and co. brought into the organisation. Personally, I think their take on environmentalism is crushingly stupid, for the most part. But their campaigns for nuclear security are often smart, focused and, while they're fraught with histrionics, they generally make a valid point.

            • by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @01:50AM (#38276696) Journal

              > Civilian nuclear technology in France is not adequately secured.

              Besides generating bad publicity, what exactly can most attacks do to the outside of a containment vessel? From Wikipedia:

              In 1988, Sandia National Laboratories conducted a test of slamming a jet fighter into a large concrete block at 481 miles per hour (775 km/h).[13][14] The airplane left only a 2.5-inch-deep (64 mm) gouge in the concrete. Although the block was not constructed like a containment building missile shield, it was not anchored, etc., the results were considered indicative. A subsequent study by EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, concluded that commercial airliners did not pose a danger.[15]

              The Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station was hit directly by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Turkey Point has two fossil fuel units and two nuclear units. Over $90 million of damage was done, largely to a water tank and to a smokestack of one of the fossil-fueled units on-site, but the containment buildings were undamaged.[16][17]

              Any terrorist thinking that a containment vessel is a good target, relative to lots of other available ones, is frankly an idiot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        The French government has no need to underscore how mean they can be to Greenpeace [wikipedia.org] Ever been in the Paris Metro and see the soldiers with the rifles, just waiting for someone to start some trouble? You'll now see them inside the N-plants. Well played GP.

        Ripley: Lieutenant, what do those pulse-rifles fire?
        Gorman: 10 millimeter explosive tip caseless. Standard light armor-piercing rounds. Why?
        Ripley: Well, look where your team is. They're right under the primary heat exchangers.
        Gorman: So?

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

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

        The French government has no need to underscore how mean they can be to Greenpeace [wikipedia.org].

        Why bother? Tell people in multiple languages to stay clear of the area, as you are doing nuclear weapon testing. Have ships and aircraft in the area to intercept anyone trying to breach the blockade and make sure they get the message. Have you any idea how much damage that nuclear weapon would suffer if they let it detonate with Greenpeace in the area?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)

      Of course, but the folks who would do that would do it anyway and likely are as we type.

      The fact the Greenpeace team weren't sniped instantly shows France and any other country which doesn't post armed kill teams onsite isn't concerned with stopping terrorists. Cameras are nice but manned posts are necessary for instant response.

      Gotta give Greenpeace credit for having balls.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:27PM (#38273826) Homepage

        Gotta give Greenpeace credit for having balls.

        Ever been to a Greenpeace function? Most of them don't. **

        * * Well, at least on external inspection. My GF at the time would have frowned at more detailed research

      • by squizzar (1031726)

        According to the security they were monitored the whole time. Possibly they were trying to avoid having another Rainbow Warrior on their hands by recognizing a bunch of hippies as just that and _not_ shooting them on sight. People protest at all things related to Nuclear Energy all the time, I doubt they could really enforce security in the way you suggest (we all know what happens when you give Cartman Authoritah), and I hope they have a more intelligence based approach.

    • by DiniZuli (621956) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:21PM (#38273750) Homepage
      It was in Europe - people don't have guns, and doesn't get shot during break-ins.
      • 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 InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:59PM (#38273386)
    Nuclear power is one of the less polluting ways to get energy out there. Yet they protest against it. Guess they would be more happy with coal plants. (I have no real life idea about the situation, but this is what I learned from SimCity)
    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:11PM (#38273598) Homepage

      Sounds like they didn't protest against nuclear energy. They protested against lax security. This is one of the best white-hat real-world sneaks I've every heard of in my life. What a way to make their point!

      • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:24PM (#38273798)

        Article I read about the event mentioned that Greenpeace called the French authorities and said that their guys were doing this, so the French troops who were about to gun down the "white hats" came within a couple of minutes of reading about this in the obituaries.

        Telling the French "oh, yeah, those are our guys, please don't shoot them" doesn't strike me as making nearly as much of a point as Greenpeace would like to think they made.

    • Well I does depend on how you measure pollutants. Nuclear energy produces tons and tons and tons of extremely long lived nuclear waste, it is a completely different kind of pollutant but it is a pollutant just the same.

  • 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.
  • by Isaac-1 (233099) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:07PM (#38273530)

    I have to wonder what sort of spin they would put on it if the alternate heasline outcome happend: Greenpeace Activist Shot While breaking into Nuclear Power Plant?

    • by PRMan (959735) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:06PM (#38274282)
      I was expecting, "French army surrenders to Greenpeace..."
  • by subreality (157447) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:10PM (#38273592)

    Let me know when they actually get inside the building. Then I might care a bit.

  • -Sigh- (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lanteran (1883836) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:11PM (#38273600) Homepage Journal

    I only hope these people live long enough to see the consequences of the abandonment of nuclear power. Seriously, why don't they pull this shit in coal stations?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tranquillity (137776)

      I only hope these people live long enough to see the consequences of the abandonment of nuclear power. Seriously, why don't they pull this shit in coal stations?

      I hope people in the US live long enough to see the alternatives to coal and nuclear energy. One big point is power saving. Just compare the energy consumption of the US with oder industry nations (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption [wikipedia.org]). Why are the US folks unable to act more responsible? Why do they block Kyoto- and Post-Kyoto (or similar) efforts?

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:12PM (#38273602) Homepage

    ... how a single comment has yet to say the obvious.
    No matter if you are pro or anti nuclear GP has just proven that obviously security measures need to be beefed up. There is absolutely no reason that a hostile, unOKed, group of people should be able to break into a nuclear power plant and have enough time to hang up a big sign in the middle of the factory and then escape.

  • 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 Technomancer (51963) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:15PM (#38273674)

    So show me the clean energy research and development that Green Peace does.
    If they care about the planet so much maybe they should invest some money, hire some scientists, develop new technologies and fix something for a change instead of protesting pointlessly.
    So maybe for once they could take all this money from donations and build say a windfarm and sell clean electric energy to people?
    But wait, I bet they are protesting those as well.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:16PM (#38273682)

    The only thing these activists managed to get through was the fence, they then hung their banners on the outside of the containment building. No risk to security.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Monday December 05, 2011 @07:18PM (#38273700)
    I can't even imagine a more disingenuous stunt.

    Greenpeace are extensively established as absolutely against almost all uses of nuclear power. They don't give a flying fuck about "increasing security" or pointing out possible threats; they want those plants shutdown entirely, and yesterday.

    Putting on a white hat doesn't make you a White Hat; they're only dressing up their usual tactics in the guise of a benevolent hack. This is just a publicity stunt in their campaign to destroy nuclear power.
  • by jesseck (942036) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:38PM (#38275602)
    The story was posted on Al Jazera, this is obviously a ploy to get sleeper terrorist cells to attempt to breach the plants.
  • Slashdot... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toutankh (1544253) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:45PM (#38276070)

    ..where people think that exposing software security flaws in order to fix them is good, but complain about the "ugly hippies" who expose a security flaw in a nuclear power plant.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.

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