French, German Citizens Protest Against Train Carrying Nuclear Waste

A train carrying nuclear waste has arrived at a German depot under heavy police guard after a turbulent trip. But the remaining road route to bring the waste to a controversial storage facility remains blocked by protesters.

German demonstrators have been angry about the storing of nuclear waste in Germany as well as an extension on the life of the nation’s nuclear plants. Protests have turned violent in some areas, as a train carrying nuclear waste sparked protests.

The train, which left France on Friday, destined for Gorleben, is the eleventh such transport in the past three decades, but the shipment was a catalyst of outrage in Germany after the government announced in September it would extend the life of the nation’s 17 nuclear power plants by 12 years. The nuclear power plants were due to be decommissioned in 2020.

On Friday, protesters blocked the train in northwestern France, chaining themselves to the tracks on which it was traveling, authorities said. Four French protesters and one German halted the shipment near a train station in Caen. According to information released from authorities, the train stopped well before the site where the protesters were gathered, and the demonstrators were removed by police.

Over the weekend, protesters attacked police with sticks and pepper spray along various stretches of the route in the Wendland area, and the authorities with batons and pepper spray. In Harlingen, officers on horseback were brought in to control the crowds, and water cannons were used against the protesters in various areas. Demonstrators set an armored police vehicle on fire, but it was quickly extinguished.

The protests overnight Sunday to Monday were “peaceful.” About 3,500 protesters sat on the tracks, and police asked each person individually whether they would like to move and whether they would then leave the site, she said.

Several hundred protesters had to be carried off the track and kept in an outdoor detention area to keep them from returning.

The train carrying nuclear waste in Germany was rolling again Monday between Dahlenberg and Dannenberg after thousands of protesters blocked the railroad by sitting on the tracks.

After finishing a 31-mile trip from Lueneburg to Dannenberg by rail, the shipment is expected to be unloaded onto trucks and driven to the storage site at Gorleben, in north-central Germany about 130 miles northwest of Berlin.

On Monday, about 1,500 people were still sitting on the road at Gorleben waiting for the transport trucks to arrive. Several tractors along the route also tried to block the shipment.

The anti-nuclear organization and Greenpeace ally GANVA, or the Non-Violent Anti-Nuclear Action Group, claimed responsibility for the French protest.

CNN Germany: Train carrying nuclear waste continues amid protests