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Germany: nuclear waste train faces mass protests

by CastorBoi Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2001 at 2:06 AM

Anti-nuclear protesters have staged blockades along the route a shipment of radioactive waste will take today to a long-disputed dump in Gorleben (northern Germany). The nuclear waste carried in ‘CASTOR’ containers (cask for storage and transportation of radioactive waste) left the French nuclear plant at La Hague at 7.30PM Central European Time on Sunday.

Germany: nuclear was...
gorleben.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x300

More than 200 farmers set up a blockade with tractors near the German town of Dannenberg on a street the nuclear waste will have to pass. Dannenberg is the site of a rail terminal from which the waste containers will be transported by road to a dump at Gorleben, long a focus of Germany's anti-nuclear movement. Thousands of people staged a series of blockades and non-violent protests elsewhere in the region.

Police is trying to prevent any anti-nuclear protests with an estimated amount of 10.000 police officers. Meanwhile local residents from the Gorleben area and anti-nuclear protesters are determined to stop the deadly shipment which is already on its way from France. The nuclear train is expected to cross the French-German border this night.

On Saturday about 10.000 people demonstrated in Lüneburg against the latest shipment of radioactive waste to the nuclear waste dump. Since then protests have spread around Germany and especially in the ‘Wendland’ region, a two hours drive south east of Hamburg.

Protesters carrying placards with the names of nearby villages broke through police lines near Dannenberg and stormed across open fields, reaching a road where the shipment is expected to pass early this week.

"When the nuclear waste comes to our region we will use any methods of non-violent action to stop this deadly shipment and send it back," said Wolfgang Ehmke of the local residents action group. It is just six months ago that the last shipment went to Gorleben with protesters chained to tracks and blocking roads delaying the arrival for 24 hours and police using heavy force to bring it to its final destination. Authorities are keen to prevent a repeat of protests that disrupted the few waste transports during the last years. Now a court has banned again gatherings within 50 metres of the shipment's route.

German power companies and the government agreed this year to phase out nuclear power plants. But this will take about 35 years - too slow for anti-nuclear activists and people living near the Gorleben dump site. Germany sends spent nuclear fuel to France for reprocessing under contracts that oblige it to take back the waste - shipments and reprocessing the protesters maintain are unsafe. The "reprocessing" is undertaken by COGEMA in La Hague, France - a nuclear facility under pressure to close due its status as the second-highest emitter of nuclear contamination in the world. Reprocessing is an unnecessary and highly contaminating industrial process.

These transports will be repeated many times over the next years as there are thousands of tons of German nuclear waste still stored at La Hague. At the same time the German government keeps sending shipments to France for reprocessing.

Anti-nuclear protesters in Germany demand from the social democrat-green government to stop any nuclear transports immediately.

More information at: www.castor.de, www.indymedia.de, www.greenpeace.de, www.greenpeace.org

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