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Greenpeace Storms EDF Nuclear Plant at Fessenheim in East France

A cyclist passes fields as the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant operated Electricite de France SA emit vapor in Bugey, France. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg
A cyclist passes fields as the cooling towers of a nuclear power plant operated Electricite de France SA emit vapor in Bugey, France. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Police arrested dozens of anti-nuclear campaigners after they entered France’s oldest atomic plant, operator Electricite de France SA said.

More than 60 Greenpeace protesters stormed the site at Fessenheim near the German border before dawn and unfurled a large banner that read “Stop Risking Europe.”

“The event didn’t have an impact on safety at the installation,” the French regulator Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said in a statement.

Greenpeace and EDF are at odds over power generation in France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country. EDF set aside at least 400 million euros ($556 million) to beef up defenses at its 19 plants including fences, dogs and electronic surveillance equipment after repeated security breaches by anti-nuclear activists in 2011 and 2012.

The incident at Fessenheim “has shone a spotlight on the vulnerability of our nuclear installations,” Greens party EELV said in a statement, which thanked Greenpeace for its effort. Two ministers of President Francois Hollande’s government are members of the EELV.

Atomic plants have come under more scrutiny after the Fukushima meltdown in Japan three years ago. Germany ordered the shutting of its nuclear fleet, making it more dependent on coal. EDF was ordered to bolster safety at Fessenheim, and the plant is slated for closing in 2016.

“Aging nuclear reactors, coal plants in Germany and eastern Europe must be abandoned in favor of massive development of renewable energy,” Greenpeace energy campaigner Cyrille Cormier said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net Alex Devine, Tony Barrett

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