Aerial protester strikes at French nuclear site

AP News

5/2/2012 9:12:21 AM - AP News

An environmental activist was arrested Wednesday after dropping a billowing smoke bomb onto the roof of a French nuclear reactor ahead of a key presidential election debate, Greenpeace and police said.

Video footage from the dramatic stunt captured the airborne activist on a motorized paraglider after he dropped the smoke bomb at the Bugey site 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Lyon.

The activist began circling the reactor before making a wobbly descent to the ground with a parachute marked "Greenpeace." The name of the activist was not released, but local police confirmed the arrest.

Plant owner EDF has defended the site's security measures, saying in a statement they "were strengthened in late 2011 (to) allow detection and immediate apprehension of the perpetrator."

Greenpeace nuclear spokesman, Yannick Rousselet, told The Associated Press the spectacle was meant to stimulate a political debate on nuclear power.

"We're four days ahead of a presidential election, and neither (President) Nicolas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande are taking the issue seriously. Seventy-five percent of French electrical consumption is nuclear, and this needs to drop. We hope this will be a talking point in tonight's TV presidential debate," said Rousselet.