Old nuclear reactors can’t save the climate
by Isadora Wronski
March 6, 2014
This post originally appeared on Greenpeace International's blogNuclear Reactionon March 5 Yesterday, 240 Greenpeace activists from national and regional officestook action across Europetohighlight the risk of ageing nuclear reactors. 80 activists staged a decommissioning of the Tihange reactor inBelgium.A projection was made on a cooling tower, at the same time, several 'decommissioning teams' entered the site, including ten climbers, who unfolded banners between the chimneys of the reactors. 50 activists also placed a large nuclear barrel and various smaller barrels at the main entrance. InSwitzerland,about 100 Greenpeace activists from six different countries entered the station at Beznau. They climbed the superstructure of the reactor and hung banners demanding the immediate shut-down of the 45 year old power plant while a paraglider circled the sky. InSweden,twenty activists entered the the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant and four climbers unfolded a massive banner in the shape of a "pension notification letter" from the top of the reactor roof. Sweden has four of the ten oldest and most worn reactors in Europe. InSpain,30 activists started to 'decommission' the Garoa nuclear power plant. Protestors chained themselves to the gates and unfolded banners as workers from the plant sprayed them with water cannons. In the Netherlands, an animation of stress cracks and crumblingwas projected onto theBorselle plant in the South of the country. InFrancea 'decommissioning team' symbolically blocked the entrance to the Bugey station and started to 'decommission' the plant by taking down signs. Out of 151 operational reactors in EU, 66 are older than 30 years old, 25 are older than 35 years and 7 are older than 40 years old.Simply put, a vast amount of these reactors have long outlasted their shelf life. And, regardless of upgrades and repairs the overall conditions of reactorswilldeteriorate over the long term. Aging, decrepit reactors are still in operation inBelgium,Finland,France,Germany,Hungary,The Netherlands,Slovakia, Slovenia,Spain,Sweden,Switzerland,Ukraine and the UK. Governments and regulators in these countries need to protect the citizens of their -- and neighbouring -- states from therisk of a Fukushimatragedy in a Europe which is densely populated. Europe can't rely on old reactors to deliver the carbon reductions needed to save the climate. A single greenhouse gas reduction-target for 2030 is, therefore, out of the question. We need binding European and national targets of 45% renewables and 55% carbon emissions cuts by 2030. So why did hundreds of Greenpeace activists take action? Because44% of the reactors in Europe are just too old to still be on line. They acted to illustrate to the world the risk which these nuclear reactors pose -- not only to Europe and the planet, but to taking tangible steps towards a sustainable and renewable energy future. Also, as we approach the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, next Tuesday the 11th, it was to highlight some basic common sense: as these reactors get older, the likelihood of catastrophic faults increases. We demand that reactors older than their initial design lifetime be closed immediately. We believe that for safety no further lifetime extensions should be granted. Join us in demanding that these ageing reactors are shut downhere. Isadora Wronski is a Powershift Energy Nuclear Coordinator at Greenpeace Nordic.