Activists Spend 28 Hours at Swedish Nuclear Plants Undetected

Greenpeace campaigners conducted their own "stress test" to expose nuclear plant security flaws

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Activists Spend 28 Hours at Swedish Nuclear Plants Undetected

In an effort to expose nuclear plant security flaws, 70 Greenpeace activists descended on two nuclear plants in Sweden and broke in. The state-owned plant operator Vattenfall says security measures worked as they were intended and all were detained. But, oops, six people managed to spend 28 hours inside the plants, just hanging out on the roof until they called the media and exposed themselves.

It was a dramatic display of nuclear security issues, and Greenpeace says it lays bare the serious security gaps in what are obviously very sensitive sites. One Greenpeace Nordic campaigner, Isadora Wronski, even tweeted from inside the Ringhals nuclear plant:

Unfortunately, a message to Wronski has not been returned, so we're guessing she has been detained without use of a phone at this point.

Another activist who managed to stay undetected in the nuclear site, Lauri Myllyvirta, wrote on the Greenpeace blog about what this breach shows: 

I took part in this demonstration to draw attention to how little nuclear companies care about the health and safety of people, and how little they do to protect reactors from accidents. The gaps in safety recently revealed about Swedish nuclear reactors are an absolute disgrace and a cause for alarm. Nuclear operators have not prepared for obstruction of seawater cooling, for snowfall, or earthquakes of a magnitude that can occur in Sweden.

Sweden has 10 reactors at three plants, providing about 40 percent of the country's electricity. A referendum more than 30 years ago approved a phase-out of nuclear power, but a 2010 parliamentary vote instead voted to replace existing plants with new ones. The Ringhals plant, one of two where activists managed to hide out, has had its share of mishaps in recent years. In June authorities stopped a truck heading to the plant that had explosives hidden inside. And in 2011, a fire broke out inside the plant because—I'm not kidding—someone left a wet vacuum cleaner in the wrong place. After the explosives incident earlier this summer all three of Sweden's nuclear sites were supposedly put on "high alert." But it doesn't seem to have been high enough to keep Greenpeace from having a nuclear slumber party.

Image via Isadora Wronski

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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