Around 60 Greenpeace activists from 14 countries entered France's Fessenheim nuclear power plant this morning to send the message that the ageing plant should be closed.
Our people unfurled a banner next to the Fessenheim Number 1 reactor with the message "Stop Risking Europe". Other activists are on top of the reactor and on its spent fuel storage pool. They've flocked from France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovenia, Austria and as far away as Turkey, Israel and Australia.
They follow the 240 activists who two weeks ago occupied nuclear power plants in Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain to warn of the dangers of to warn of ageing nuclear reactors.
At 37 years old, Fessenheim is the oldest nuclear power plant in France. Greenpeace has identified its reactors as two of the most dangerous in Europe and they should be shut down immediately.
The area around the plant is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding. It lies in the heart of Europe, between France, Germany and Switzerland, with seven million people living with 100 kilometers of the reactors.
The closure of Fessenheim should be the first in a long series of European nuclear power plants that need to be closed in the coming years. These other plants include Le Bugey, Tricastin, Gravelines and Le Blayais.
We’re entering a new era of nuclear risk in Europe: 66 of the continent’s 151 nuclear power plants are already older than 30 years with seven over 40. Despite upgrades and repairs, the general long-term state of these reactors is deteriorating.
Two weeks ago Greenpeace published a report, "Lifetime extension of ageing nuclear power plants: entering a new era of risk", which proves the older a nuclear reactor gets, the higher the risks of serious accidents.
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.
Europe is expected to decide its energy policy framework for 2030 during a European Council in Brussels later this week. The proposed target of "at least 27 percent" of energy generated by renewable sources is far too low to make the vital leap from coal and nuclear energy to solar, wind and other renewables.
Greenpeace calls François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to demand a 45% state-binding target for renewable energy for Europe by 2030. The world is watching.
For more information, visit our Out of Age website where you can see where Europe's ageing nuclear reactors are located and take action yourself.
(Images © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace 03/18/2014)