Spook scandal: the hidden face of the nuclear industry

Feature story - April 3, 2009
Twenty-four years after the attack by the French secret services against our ship the Rainbow Warrior here in Auckland - which cost the life of a Greenpeace photographer - the nuclear industry is once again at the heart a major spy scandal involving Greenpeace.

More nuclear power = less nuclear weapons? Only if you're as mad as a hatter.

This time it is top staff at nuclear energy giant Electricité de France (EDF) that have been charged on suspicion of spying on us.
So what spooked EDF? What worries them about our efforts to reveal the hidden face of the nuclear industry as being dangerous, expensive and unnecessary?

It all began... 

In 1971, ten activists set off in a tiny boat to prevent a nuclear blast planned by the United States. This was Greenpeace's founding activity.
Throughout the world, we fight to expose the risks presented by nuclear energy and weapons, from radioactive waste transport to waste management to the risk of accidents.  We also highlight that nukes are no answer to climate change.  "Clean and safe" nuclear energy is a myth. People deserve and are entitled to a transparent and democratic debate on this. 

The story in France

In France, Greenpeace campaigns against EDF and French nuclear company Areva, particularly the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) a third generation reactor that is scheduled to be switched on in 2012 in Flamanville, France. 
In January 2009, following official confirmation that Nicolas Sarkozy would build a second EPR, we revealed evidence that waste from this type of reactor would be seven times more dangerous than the waste generated by its predecessors.
Then in March of this year we made public the facts about the latest Mixed-Oxide (MOX) transport from France to Japan. The Areva shipment contains 1.8 tons of plutonium in the MOX - enough to make 225 nuclear weapons, each more powerful than the bomb that devastated Nagasaki.
This controversy started three years earlier, in May 2006, when we provoked the fury of the French government by publishing online a classified document showing the vulnerability of the Flamanville reactor should an airplane hit it in an accident or 9/11-style attack. 
"By publishing this document, Greenpeace played its role as a whistleblower," said Pascal Husting, executive director of Greenpeace France. "As such, the work of our activists should be protected by the state rather than be monitored or attacked by private companies!" 

Independent and non-violent 

When the French Government infiltrated Greenpeace in 1985, their objective was to derail our campaign against nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Their plan not only failed, it utterly backfired. The public response around the world was outrage, and in the end we won our campaign.  Despite being turned into a national pariah, Greenpeace France not only survived, it came back stronger than ever.
Greenpeace is built on two fundamental values: independence (both political & financial), and non-violence. We are not supported by any political party, do not endorse candidates and exist because of the generosity of individuals who choose to donate to us. This structural independence is how we guarantee the freedom of speech and action of the organisation, in all places and under all circumstances. 
Non-violence is a fundamental element of all our activities. Based on these fundamental values, we mobilize public opinion and force decision-makers to address problems that threaten the environment. 
In France as in the rest of the world, there's not a government or a corporation which can keep Greenpeace from being Greenpeace.



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