Thousands protest against France's oldest nuclear plant
Thousands of people demonstrated in eastern France on Saturday to demand the closure of the country's oldest nuclear power plant amid a huge police presence.Colmar - Thousands of people demonstrated in eastern France on Saturday to demand the closure of the country's oldest nuclear power plant amid a huge police presence.
Organisers said more than 10,000 people, including from Spain, Italy and neighbouring Germany and Switzerland, rallied peacefully in Colmar while police said 3,500 took part in the protest against the Fessenheim nuclear plant.
"This is a success and the question of the closure of Fessenheim has now been clearly put forward," said Denis Vernet, of the anti-nuclear umbrella group SDN, which organised the protest with the German movement Bund.
A delegation handed a letter to the region's prefect Pierre-Andre Peyvel calling for the immediate closure of the plant.
Opponents say the plant, which opened in 1977 and is located near the German and Swiss borders, is dilapidated, but the government wants to keep it operational.
Authorities deployed 3,000 police officers, dozens of anti-riot police vehicles and trucks with water cannons to the demonstration in front of the city's train station, a municipal source said.
The organisers complained that the security apparatus was exaggerated and charged that German and Swiss border police had "blocked" some of the protesters heading to Colmar.
Local authorities denied that anyone was barred from passing the border, but acknowledged that travelers were asked for their papers.
"They want people to believe that the lack of security is because of the anti-nuclear activists. In reality, it is the nuclear industry and the political class that use intimidation and repression," Vernet said.