Protesters invade German train trackto stop French nuclear shipment

8th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

HANOVER, Germany, Nov 8 (AFP) - Demonstrators in Germany chained themselves to a railway Monday to stop a shipment of highly radioactive nuclear waste from France, a day after a protester was crushed to death under the train's wheels.

HANOVER, Germany, Nov 8 (AFP) - Demonstrators in Germany chained themselves to a railway Monday to stop a shipment of highly radioactive nuclear waste from France, a day after a protester was crushed to death under the train's wheels.

Amid sorrow and anger over the death of the 21-year-old man who had attached himself to the track near the eastern French city of Nancy, a number of defiant activists blocked the tracks near Uelzen, northern Germany.

The consignment, which is carrying 12 containers of spent fuel rods, resumed its journey from Uelzen after about an hour and three protesters were detained. Subsequent protests by thousands of demonstrators along the route led to brief delays.

The shipment had left the retreatment plant at La Hague in northern France on Saturday evening and crossed on to German soil late Sunday after a delay of several hours following the protestor's death.

The man had a leg severed by the train and died despite receiving emergency treatment at the scene.

Late Monday afternoon, the shipment rolled into the northern German town of Dannenberg, where the waste was to be transferred onto trucks and driven to a storage facility near Gorleben, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) away.

Several hundred demonstrators moved to block the road to Gorleben, ignoring orders by police to clear the route.

In Dannenberg, farmers protesting against the convoy blocked a street with their tractors, each festooned with a black crepe bow in memory of the dead demonstrator.

Many in town hung black flags in mourning. In front of a church where activists held a spontaneous vigil for the man late Sunday, demonstrators placed candles and flowers.

Germany, which has no treatment facilities of its own, sends spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants for reprocessing at the La Hague plant before they are returned here for storage.

The consignment is the seventh to be returned to Germany since 1996 and an estimated 11,000 officers are guarding the convoy.

Anti-nuclear and environmental campaigners say the shipments are dangerous and that the waste will contaminate the water table at Gorleben.

Following the death of the protester, German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin of the ecologist Greens party called on both sides "to avert dangers of this kind" during the final stretch of the convoy's 600-kilometre odyssey.

But a spokesman for environmentalist group Robin Wood said the blockades were justified.

"We think it is necessary and legitimate to continue our protests despite the incident in France," said Juergen Sattari.

A representative from a regional organisation opposed to the shipments, Dieter Metk, said that the death of the protester had only mobilised resistance.

"Many people think that we should not give up in this situation," Metk said, saying it was "shocking" that the shipment had continued late Sunday after the fatal accident.

Demonstrators have turned out to this scenic region of northern Germany for what have become traditional cat-and-mouse games with police.

More than 5,000 anti-nuclear protestors - a diverse band of local farmers, teenagers with dreadlocks and veteran environmentalists - began the protests Saturday in northern Germany to rally against the imminent arrival of the shipment.

In large part due to the expense and complexity of the waste transports, as well as a campaign pledge by the Greens party, Germany has agreed to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2020.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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