Skip to main content

France doesn't know who's flying drones over its nuclear power plants

France doesn't know who's flying drones over its nuclear power plants


Seven stations buzzed by UAV in two weeks

Share this story

The French government is investigating a series of unidentified drone flights recently conducted over state-owned nuclear power plants. Unmanned aerial vehicles were spotted over seven different nuclear power plants around the country in a two-week period between October 5th and October 20th. The drones were reportedly commercial models, available for purchase by the general public, but it's not yet clear who was behind the controls.

Greenpeace denied it flew the drones

Greenpeace was initially suspected of orchestrating the flights, having made attempts to enter French nuclear power plants in the past. Activists from the environmental group used a paraglider to fly over one of the seven plants in 2012, and last month, 55 members were given suspended sentences for making their way into another power station in the east of the country. But Greenpeace denied that it had carried out the flights, saying it was always open about its activities, and arguing that the operation — which saw four flights take place on the same day hundreds of miles apart — was too large-scale for it to pull off.

France relies on nuclear power for 75 percent of its electricity, and the country's law prohibits aircraft from flying lower than one kilometer over nuclear power plants, or within a five kilometer radius. Plant operator EDF said that it had "no fear" that the vehicles could cause damage, and their flights had no implications on the security or the functions of the power plants, but French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that steps were being taken to "find out what these drones are and neutralize them."