Greenpeace activists have broken into a French nuclear power station and set off fireworks to show the site’s vulnerability to attacks.
The environmentalist group said its campaigners breached two security barriers before setting off the fireworks next to a spent fuel pool where radioactive rods are stored after being used.
Yannick Rousselet, the head of Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear campaign, said: “Do we need to wait for a malicious attack on a nuclear plant before EDF gets out of denial?”
Police said eight people were arrested following the intrusion, which has been described as “irresponsible”.
EDF, which operates the plant, said the activists were a few tens of metres away from nuclear installations but were stopped eight minutes after entering the site in Cattenom, eastern France.
Oliver Lamarre, deputy head of the energy giant’s nuclear fleet in France, said: “Had they been ill-intentioned people, or had there been a doubt about that, things would have happened differently and within a different timeframe.”
Greenpeace is currently campaigning for France to create special bunkers over its nuclear waste pools.
France has 58 nuclear reactors, with 63 spent fuel pools, while Belgium has two nuclear reactors.
A recent Greenpeace report claimed most of France’s reactors were built before the rise of modern-day threats from terror groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda.
In a statement, EDF said its nuclear plants were “safe, properly monitored and very well protected” and that it was constantly evaluating their resistance to criminal acts or terrorism.
France currently gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear power.
But President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power and expand renewable energy.
The French government is planning to close a third of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2025.