8 arrested at Quebec anti-nuclear protests

Anti-nuclear activists occupied Hydro-Québec's headquarters Wednesday, as public hearings on the Gentilly-2 reactor got underway.

Protest targets public hearings into future of Quebec's sole nuclear power plant

A Greenpeace Quebec protester is among six arrested outside Hydro-Québec headquarters in downtown Montreal on Wednesday morning. (Melissa Kent/CBC)
Eight people were arrested in two separate anti-nuclear protests in Quebec Wednesday.

Four people who chained themselves to the front door of Hydro-Québec's Montreal headquarters were arrested early in the morning, after authorities used wire cutters to set them free.

Activists targetted the public utility headquarters because of public hearings being held on the future of Gentilly-2, Quebec's sole nuclear facility.

Protesters want the facility to be closed.

Two other activists were also detained after climbing onto a small roof over Hydro-Québec's doorway.

All six arrested in Montreal face tresspassing charges. 

There were two more arrests at public hearings held by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Bécancour. 

One man was arrested after he shoved a pie in the face of a hydro official attending the meeting.

A second man was taken into custody after yelling that the hearings were illegitimate.

Activists suit up in biohazard gear for protest

Shortly after 6:30 a.m., activists dressed in white Hazmat suits took over Hydro-Québec's entrance on René-Lévesque Boulevard.

They placed about 20 bright yellow barrels with radio-active warning symbols around the entrance, and four people chained themselves to the front doors.

The Greenpeace Quebec activists were protesting Hydro-Québec's request for a five-year licence renewal of the Gentilly-2 nuclear facility. (Melissa Kent/CBC)
Two others climbed onto the overhang above the front steps to hang banners calling for the closure of Gentilly-2.

Around 8 a.m., Montreal police used bolt cutters to break the chains and arrest the activists. Firefighters used a ladder truck to remove the other protesters from their perch above the entrance.

Greenpeace Quebec argued the facility is too costly and too dangerous to stay open, pointing to the situation at Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant to illustrate the dangers of nuclear energy.

Gentilly-2 currently delivers about three per cent of Quebec's overall power, said Greenpeace nuclear analyst Shawn-Patrick Stensil.

"We already have a surplus of electricity. We don't need it. We are exporting electricity. Why live with the risks of a Fukushima-type accident when we don't even need the electricity?"

In Bécancour, the CNSC is reviewing Hydro-Québec's request for a five-year licence renewal and massive investment to refurbish Gentilly-2.

Quebec's power utility is willing to spend $2-billion to ensure the facility will remain viable for another 30 years.

With files from the Canadian Press