Protesters Fail to Prevent Franco-German Nuclear Shipment

GORLEBEN, Germany, November 13, 2001 (ENS) - A shipment of nuclear waste has been returned from the French reprocessing plant at La Hague to a nuclear dump at Gorleben. The consignment is only the second permitted by the German radiation authority (BfS) since transboundary shipments were resumed in March following a three year break.

The first shipment of nuclear waste from France to Germany since 1998 ended on March 30 after a three day trip marked by large scale protests. Some 20,000 police were employed to guard the rail and road transfer of six armoured containers, which demonstrators nevertheless managed to delay by chaining themselves to railway tracks.

This time, around 5,000 anti-nuclear campaigners, farmers and residents were held at bay by police, who outnumbered them three to one and managed to prevent any delays.

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Police surround anti-transport demonstrators on the railway tracks (Photo by Fred Dott courtesy Greenpeace Germany)
The only hold-up during the two-day journey was caused when the locomotive pulling the 67 metric tons of vitrified waste in six Castor containers broke down and carriages had to be hitched up to another engine.

Vitrified nuclear waste has been incorporated into a stable, environmentally safe glass that can be placed in a long term geologic repository.

The German government maintains that Gorleben is a safe repository for reprocessed nuclear waste, but Greenpeace campaigners called the German power industry's nuclear waste disposal policy "scandalous and reckless."

The radioactive waste was being transported 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across Europe only to be left in "a potato store for an indeterminate period," Greenpeace said.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}