Hundreds of French police smash nuclear dump protest camp, raid support house and arrest opponents
Jack Cohen-Joppa reports in the Nuclear Resister:
Before dawn on the morning of February 22, hundreds of French police in riot gear and equipped with trucks, bulldozers, helicopters and drones, evicted dozens of nuclear waste dump opponents who had occupied disputed woods in the Meuse district for the last 18 months. A public relations offensive accompanied the action, vilifying opponents with images of previous clashes and supplying the media with dramatic body-camera footage from hooded police wielding chainsaws as they dismantled the protest camp. In anticipation of such police action, a recently-established support network among nuclear opponents across the country was pressed into action. That night, there were demonstrations in front of Prefecture offices in more than 70 cities across France.
A few years ago, the Lejuc Woods were picked as the site for ventilation shafts into the proposed underground burial vaults for France's commercial and military nuclear waste. In the summer of 2016, when the nuclear waste authority ANDRA illegally walled off a construction site in the woods, dump opponents forced them out and began their own occupation. Since then, activists have planted crops and established residency in treehouses and watchtowers to protect the communal woods. While title to the property remains in dispute, last summer a court ordered the eviction of the new community, providing police with the authority to act now.
To isolate the resisters from their supporters, police blocked roads leading into the woods while arresting activists in the lookouts and surrounding their treehouse homes. As news of the raid spread, cars approaching from several nearby villages were stopped for identity checks of the drivers and passengers. The streets in the village of Bure were blocked as police also surrounded the House of Resistance, where local opposition to the national project has been based for more than 20 years. At least 30 occupants took refuge upstairs as police broke down the door to enter. Some locked themselves together and had to be cut apart, but over the next few hours, all of the occupants were escorted out while police searched the building. Many were taken to surrounding police stations for identity checks. At the end of the day, five people remained in police custody.
A joint press communique from nine of the groups opposing the dump condemned the raid and the hypocrisy of the government. While Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot had declared that dialogue, not "force and brutality," would mark the way forward on the dump question, he sent the groups a disingenuous invitation just the day before to meet with his deputy Sebastien Lecornu, due to arrive in the region on the evening of the raids for consultations in the Prefecture of Bar le Duc the next morning, February 23.
The groups rejected the invitation, asking: "Is this the way democracy is practiced? Diplomatic visits, promises of employment and nuclear development on one side, and, simultaneously, brutality and indiscriminate repression of an opposition. … Who is illegal at Lejuc Wood? The occupants of the forest who built a barricade against a project insane and questioned from all sides, or the authorities who by this incomprehensible evacuation supports this project? The government claims to enforce the law, while the ANDRA has been sentenced three times and is still the subject of four complaints and legal action before the courts for illegal work on the contested property of Lejuc Wood."
These raids are the latest escalation in ANDRA's effort to get a hole in the ground. They come after recent convictions of dump opponents arrested during earlier clashes with police, who face a possible jail sentence next month.
A recently announced information tour to begin discussion with supporters around the country during the last week of February now takes on more urgency, as does the recent call for people to come to Bure during the first weekend of March to help prepare the camp in the woods for actions this summer.
For more information, visit http://en.vmc.camp/2018/02/22/expulsion-forest-info-thread/.
A chronicle in English of the last two years of nuclear dump resistance can be found in the pages of the Nuclear Resister newsletter from issues #182 (September 6, 2016), #184, #185 and #186 (download at www.nukeresister.org/back-issues/).
Jack Cohen-Joppa, 23 Feb 2018, 'Hundreds of French police smash nuclear dump protest camp, raid support house and arrest opponents', www.nukeresister.org/2018/02/22/hundreds-of-french-police-smash-nuclear-...
India's 'No First Use' policy
Kumar Sundaram and M. V. Ramana (both contributors to Nuclear Monitor) have written an article for the Journal of Peace and Nuclear Disarmament on India's 'No First Use' nuclear weapons policy. A short excerpt is copied below and the full article is online.
"Indian officials have long claimed that the country's nuclear weapons are governed by a No First Use (NFU) policy, and they have often used this policy as proof that India is a responsible nuclear weapon state. However, there are many influential strategists and policy makers who have argued that India should abandon that policy. There is also some evidence that despite the public talk of a NFU policy, the leadership might not be actually contemplating acting in full accordance with such a policy. Finally, ongoing military acquisitions, such as a canisterised missile mated to a nuclear warhead, could provide the necessary material capability for India to launch a first strike. If indeed Indian policy makers are seriously interested in using the NFU as a tool for risk reduction and building stability, they would have to stop such acquisitions and not deploy nuclear weapons, either mated to missiles (land based or sea based) or to aircraft, both as a matter of stated formal policy and practice.
"India's constant emphasis on the NFU is also out of touch with the what is happening with the effort to achieve nuclear disarmament, wherein the focus has been on a total ban on the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons; in contrast, the NFU does not in any way make the possession of nuclear weapons illegal. The effort to ban nuclear weapons has achieved some recent success through the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (or Ban Treaty) being adopted at the United Nations in July 2017 and opened for signature to member states in September 2017. India did not sign the treaty nor did it participate in the negotiations of the treaty."
Kumar Sundaram and M. V. Ramana, Feb 2018, 'India and the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons', Journal of Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/25751654.2018.1438737
Our friends at Green Action in Japan need our help!
Our friends at Green Action in Japan need our help! The governor of Japan's Fukui Province approved the restart of two reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant near Kyoto. This took place in the face of much public opposition, and we are supporting the activists of Kyoto as they fight to keep the reactors off line. On February 16, Kyoto citizens and others from the surrounding region went to Kyoto City to urge legislators to oppose Ohi nuclear power plant restart. Please sign Green Action's petition to keep Ohi closed.
Green Action Japan: http://greenaction-japan.org/en/
‒ Tim Judson, Nuclear Information & Resource Service
US: National Grassroots Activist Summit on Radioactive Waste ‒ Chicago, March 16‒18
A National Grassroots Activist Summit on Radioactive Waste (March 16‒18 in Chicago) will hear voices on environmental justice from front-line communities ‒ people living near nuclear reactors as well as near nuclear dump-targeted sites. In addition, the summit will hear from people living in urban centers that would be nuclear transport hubs if consolidated storage of highly radioactive waste or Yucca Mountain are approved to go forward.
The event is being organized by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the Nuclear Energy Information Service with the support of many grassroots partner organizations.
For more information and to register: www.nirs.org/radioactive-waste/hlw/waste-summit/
Europe: Cross-border cooperation on nuclear safety inadequate
Cross-border cooperation on nuclear safety between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany leaves a lot to be desired, the Dutch Safety Board has concluded in a new report. Although the report says that the chances of a serious incident are "small", it warns that cross-border nuclear accident cooperation would "not run smoothly" and urges the authorities to improve contingency planning.
Belgium's nuclear reactors have long courted controversy due to their age, well-documented safety concerns and their close proximity to the country's borders with Germany and the Netherlands. The Dutch Safety Board report looked into how well the three countries are working together on aspects like evacuation strategies, plant maintenance and contingency planning. Its report highlighted that radiation treatment measures vary between the three countries. For example, Germany has issued iodine tablets to some border communities while towns on the other side of the borders go without. Evacuation plans also differ.
Euractiv, 6 Feb 2018, www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/cross-border-nuclear-cooperation-mu...
Nuclear energy challenged by Austria, questioned in France
Austria has officially launched a lawsuit against the European Commission for its approval of Hungarian state subsidies for the construction of two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant. The Austrian government had announced on 22 January that it intended to file the suit. Austrian Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Köstinger has confirmed that the government has now filed the suit with the European Court of Justice.
The Paks plant, which is 100 km south of Budapest, currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987, reports World Nuclear News. An inter-governmental agreement signed in early 2014 would see Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors supply two new units at Paks – VVER-1200 reactors – as well as a Russian state loan of up to €10.0 billion (US$11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project.
"Hungary received the go-ahead to start construction of new nuclear power units at Paks this year as planned, following the Commission's approval last March of commitments the country had made to limit distortions in competition. The Commission concluded that Hungary's financial support for the Paks II project involves state aid, but it could approve this support under EU state aid rules on the basis of these commitments." Köstinger said that Austria is convinced that nuclear power must not have a place in Europe.
In France, the European home of nuclear power, the sector is increasingly under pressure. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has said that "France has no need to build new nuclear reactors in addition to the one currently being assembled in Flamanville", reports Reuters. President Emmanuel Macron had earlier said "he would not rule out France building new nuclear reactors to replace state-controlled utility EDF's ageing reactors."
But Hulot said, "For the moment, frankly, there is no need to consider building other nuclear reactors in addition to Flamanville." Hulot said in November last year that reducing the share of nuclear energy in France's power mix to 50 percent from 75 percent would probably take until 2030-35, dropping an initial 2025 target date.
Journalist Craig Morris, writing for the website Energy Transition of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, recently speculated that France may be about to close five nuclear reactors "without any official announcement". He bases this mainly on announcements on the website of French nuclear operator EDF, which say that four plants currently closed "will be reassessed and … will be restarted if economically justified".
According to Morris, such as a sentence is "highly unusual". EDF, he adds, would not comment.
Abridged from Energy Post, 27 Feb 2018, https://energypostweekly.eu/february-27-2018-express/#section_3