Tuesday, 1 April 2014

It’s time for the end of ageing nuclear power stations in Europe

 Last month, I joined a delegation of UK Greenpeace activists going to Belgium to take action at the Tihange Nuclear Power Station on the Meuse River in Huy, which has been running since 1975. It was designed to have an operational lifetime of just 30 years, and yet decisions made by the Belgian government in 2003 and 2012 mean that it is now permitted to run until 2025, a full twenty years longer than it had been originally designed for. It should seem obvious to anyone that this extension is simply not safe, far above and beyond even the normal dangers of running a nuclear power station.

There were a number of different teams involved in the action: a team of climbers who went inside the plant to hang a banner off the side of a power station chimney; a number of small inside stickering teams who walked around placing “The End” stickers on objects and buildings inside the power station; and an outside team who demonstrated at the entrance and perimeter of the site and displayed a “The End” projection onto a chimney of the plant. All of these roles carried different risks of arrest, but all of them were absolutely critical for the success of the action.

On the same day, similar actions also took place at other ageing nuclear power stations in France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, involving 240 Greenpeace activists from across Europe, showing the media and the world that this is a Europe-wide problem which needs to be dealt with swiftly.

There was significant media coverage on the day and in the week following the actions, which coincided with the release of a report by Greenpeace on ageing nuclear power stations in Europe, and all in all it was a great success. Given that the second oldest nuclear power station in Europe is here in the UK, Wylfa in North Wales (which has been running since 1971), this is clearly a problem which isn’t just limited to the continent, but we should be concerned about here too.

It’s time to close down these ageing nuclear power stations and to invest in genuine solutions for generating renewable electricity across Europe, before it’s too late.

To be involved in a non-violent direct action (NVDA) like this with Greenpeace, it is necessary to first take part in one of our NVDA training days. There will be a basic introductory talk on taking NVDA with Greenpeace at the Edinburgh local group meeting on Wednesday 2 April 2014 at 7pm in the Beehive Inn, and a full NVDA training day will take place in Edinburgh on Saturday 26 April 2014. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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