A Greenpeace activist flies unchallenged over Ringhals nuclear power plant releasing pig shaped balloons onto the reactor roof to illustrate how vulnerable Ringhals is for an attack or accident from the air, a potential hazard that has not been sufficiently addressed by either industry or government. 05/21/2013 © Greenpeace / Johanna HannoThat’s the lesson Greenpeace Sweden sent to the nuclear industry once again today as we flew our paramotor glider over the unprotected Ringhals nuclear power plant in southwest Sweden, near Gothenburg.

With simple gear and without hindrance, our Greenpeace activist dropped pig-shaped balloons from the glider onto the reactor roof as part of our ongoing “stress test” of nuclear reactors.

And once again we see that nuclear reactors are both vulnerable and unprotected from threats – deliberate or accidental - from the air. The next time it might not be a Greenpeace paramotor approaching the plant – it could be a falling passenger jet.

So why are we highlighting these dangers? Because nobody else – especially the nuclear industry - will.

After the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011, the EU decided that all member states needed to "stress test" their nuclear power plants. In a summary report, the European Commission identified several shortcomings at nuclear power plants in Europe.

But the stress tests missed a number of serious security risks. To highlight security risks, 70 Greenpeace activists conducted complementary, peaceful stress tests at two Swedish nuclear power plants in October 2012, revealing how accessible nuclear power plants are to unauthorized persons. The response from industry and authority was to build yet another fence and increase vehicle checks.

Picture of stress testers ( inflatable balloons shaped as pigs ) taken before flight over Ringhals. 05/20/2013 © GreenpeaceToday’s additional stress test reveals yet another example of the long list of risks connected to nuclear power, none of which are taken seriously enough by authorities and industry. Despite the repeated reports, studies and test, reactors are allowed to continue in operation as if nothing is wrong.

This is completely unacceptable. Sweden’s environment minister Lena Ek must put safety first and take all of the country’s reactors out of service as soon as possible.

The other nuclear nations would do well to pay attention. How vulnerable are their reactors? Don’t waste billions in a doomed attempt to upgrade inherently unsafe reactors when that money could finance an energy revolution in renewables and energy efficiency.

We don’t have to worry that accidents and attacks on wind farms and solar power arrays might cause catastrophic damage. So let’s take the stress out of electricity generation and drop nuclear power. The nuclear pig is never going to fly.

(Images © Greenpeace / Johanna Hanno)