There is a strong memory of the successful struggle of several weeks in Pointe de Raz, Plogoff, Brittany, in 1980, against the attempt by EDF (Electricité de France) to build a nuclear power plant. No nuclear power station has ever been build in Breton territory. An excellent documentary by Nicole Le Garrec commemorates the unusual events in this peaceful and small fishing village. As reported by WISE (Nuclear Monitor), in June 1976 a first confrontation occurred at Plogoff when EDF engineers were prevented from entering the prospective site by local inhabitants blocking the access roads. After that, in 1978, the state opted for the Plogoff location again. Meanwhile, in March of that year, the large Amoco Cadiz oil spill had taken place in the coast of Brittany and environmental awareness had risen. As soon as the decision to build the nuclear power plant was made public, people started to organize marches. In September 1978 5,000 people marched on the site, and 15,000 a week later in the nearby cities of Brest and Quimper. However, the authorities approved the site. In July 1979, the commune of Plogoff received the first papers regarding the statutory inquiry into the public utility of the project, a sign that EDF was determined to proceed. The local council refused to cooperate with the inquiry. In the morning of January 30, 1980, in a famous incident, the official documents for the Public Utility Inquiry (3.5 kilograms of paper) arrived at the town hall and were immediately burned ceremonially on the square in the presence of the Mayor. This launched the beginning of a new level of resistance. To fulfill the legal procedures of the licensing process, the inquiry documents had to be displayed locally. Because civil servants and EDF were not allowed by the local politicians to use the town hall or any other place, they set up mobile "Mairies Annexes" in small vans for displaying the documents. The first barricades appeared. All access roads where blocked with tree trunks, old tractors and whatever was available, to stop the mobile "town hall annexes" from entering the town. Under heavy police protection the vans, dubbed the "town hall annexes", made their way, having first to remove all barricades. There they stayed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and withdrew again. This was the beginning of the siege of Plogoff. During six weeks, from January 31 to March 14, the "town hall annexes" and the police guarding them came under constant harassment, including some molotov cocktails, arrests, trials, petitions asking the removal of the intervention forces which stationed there permanently, marches gathering several thousand people, stone throwing, general strikes and even strikes in regional courts on days when cases against anti-nuclear activists were scheduled. All this put a new rhythm into the daily life of Plogoff's inhabitants. The police replied with clouds of tear gas. Every day, the convoy had to get into place through the barricades; the location of the "town hall annexes" was usually fouled with manure and had to be cleaned up. During the day mainly the women kept up a constant psychological warfare with insults and taunts thrown at the police. The main clashes usually occurred at 5 p.m. when the "annexes" were due to be withdrawn. On March 14, the last day of the inquiry, a crowd of at least 7.000 "pilgrims" gathered and organized a symbolic burial with black coffins, wooden crosses, crowns of flowers and women wearing the traditional grieving headdress. A feast took place two days later attended by over 50,000 people.
Then slowly calm came back after the departure of the public inquiry team. During the following months, people didn't give up and asked support from other localities in the area, and organized lectures about the accident of Three Miles Island at Harrisburg, US, that had taken place the year before. In May 1980, at Pentecost, 100,000 people demonstrated on the site again.
By the autumn of 1980 the site was kept under constant occupation. The landing of helicopters was made impossible by special kites and oil drums ready to be ignited. There was an early warning system within a radius of 50 km around the site, for approaches on land. Barricades to block all access roads had been prepared. The land had been taken in common ownership by about 2,000 individuals to make expropriation more difficult. A sheep farm was installed on the site and supplied with additional sheep by Larzac farmers. Regionally, the resistance of Plogoff could draw upon the support of environmental organizations such as Eau et Rivières de Bretagne and Bretagne vivant, consumers associations, political parties such as the PSU, the CFDT labour union and other committees like the GSIEN (Groupement des Scientifiques pour l'Information sur l'Energie Nucléaire). French state power never expected such resistance by a village of fishermen which was mostly populated by old people. For six weeks they confronted the riot police (CRS), the military police (gendarmerie) and even some parachutists who guarded the mairies annexes. Some villagers were arrested and brought to court. In 1981 François Mitterrand was elected President of France. He carried out his campaign promise to cancel the project. Since then, Plogoff is well known in the country for the tough and stubborn fight against the installation of the nuclear plant.