'Most radioactive ever' waste train heads for Germany

5th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A train carrying 123 tonnes of nuclear waste and billed by opponents as the "most radioactive in history" left France Friday, with protests expected on its journey to Germany.

The train, which environmental lobby groups say is carrying twice the radioactivity of the Chernobyl disaster, left Valognes in Normandy and is due to arrive in Gorleben, Germany, on Saturday, an AFP journalist reported.

The waste is returning to Germany, where it was used to generate electricity, after being treated at a plant in France by nuclear giant Areva.

Areva spokesman Christophe Neugnot called criticism from groups such as Greenpeace "a smokescreen for anti-nuclear protestors to hide the fact that nuclear energy is taking off again in almost all European countries."

He dismissed concerns about possible leaks in transit, describing the train as a "fortress on wheels. The containers would survive a train hitting them at full speed."

Areva has also rejected the "most radioactive" tag, insisting the cargo is not as radioactive as the last load of waste they shipped back to Germany.

Around 30,000 demonstrators are expected to oppose the train's arrival in Germany, where the same number of police have reportedly been mobilised to deal with protests.

Areva says the waste is equivalent to that generated annually by the nuclear-generated electricity used by 24 million Germans.

© 2010 AFP

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