Protests as German nuclear waste train crosses Germany
The train had been delayed for more than 11 hours by three militants who chained themselves to a track near the French border.
Berlin -- As a trainload of nuclear waste crossed Germany Sunday, riot police drew batons to push back demonstrators who tried to block a railway line.
On Saturday, the train had been delayed for more than 11 hours by three militants who chained themselves to a track near the French border. Police had to carefully dismantle a lump of concrete buried under the track to detach the trio.
Protesters later tried to occupy another railway line, 500 kilometers to the north, where the train was expected to arrive on Monday. The remains of nuclear fuel rods are bound for a German nuclear waste warehouse.
A police spokesman said there was a melee as squads of riot police used batons to disperse 500 demonstrators on the line near the northern town of Hitzacker, close to the storage site.
Television pictures showed police hitting people to make them move. The protesters then scattered into nearby woods.
Protesters also set bales of straw alight on the track. Police water-cannon trucks extinguished the fires.
At the time, the train, loaded with 17 tons of waste pellets encapsulated in 100 tons of glass to trap the substance for centuries, was still far to the south, having just passed the city of Wuerzburg.
Police in the city of Fulda said the exact route remained secret.
The convoy is headed to the warehouse at Gorleben in the northern German countryside, where many tons of radioactive waste have been accumulated during 10 previous waste shipments over the years.
The nuclear fuel was used in German power stations, then turned into pellets at a factory in France. Berlin hopes to dump the waste long term in an old salt-mine.
More than 15,000 demonstrators were camped out near Gorleben in one of the biggest anti-nuclear protests for years. The anti-nuclear movement seeks the immediate closure of all nuclear power stations.
The issue has become a live one in Germany after revelations that another salt mine dump, near Wolfenbuettel, has developed leaks and cracks.