Protesters undeterred as 'Chernobyl on wheels' reaches depot
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A controversial train carrying nuclear waste arrived in the German station of Dannenberg on Monday, setting up a final showdown between environmental activist and police after a three-day journey that was massively delayed by protests.
The armoured train reaches Dannenberg. Photo: Greenpeace
A train carrying nuclear waste arrived in the German station of Dannenberg on Monday, setting up a final showdown between environmental activists and police after a three-day journey that was massively delayed by protests.
The train’s 11 armoured containers, containing 123 tonnes of radioactive waste that environmental lobby groups say is twice as radioactive as the Chernobyl disaster, must now be loaded onto lorries for the final 20-kilometre stretch by road to the nuclear storage facility in nearby Gorleben. The waste is on its way back to Germany -- where it was initially created in generating electricity -- after being treated at a plant in France by nuclear giant Areva. It has been melted and mixed into glass cylinders in order to stabilise it, and then stored in so-called Castor containers.
But after a weekend of large-scale and sometimes violent protests, which saw activists chaining themselves to train tracks in France and riot police charging demonstrators, around 1,500 people including local farmers with tractors now aim to block access to the facility.
Anti-nuclear movements have intensified in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to delay the closure of the country’s 17 nuclear plants.
The red dots show the stretch of road leading to the storage facility. Posted on the website 'Sortir du nucléaire'
"German farmers plan to block the 20 kilometres of road up to the storage facility with their tractors"
François Mativet is an activist for the French anti-nuclear association “Sortir du Nucléaire”.
I was in Dannenberg this morning and I watched the Castor containers being unloaded. I was surprised at how little safety measures were deployed. One by one, they opened the roof of each wagon. Then a giant crane picked up the containers and dropped them onto trucks.
The transhipment area was entirely cordoned off by police. Activists gathered around the site remained calm. German protesters are very responsible – they know when it’s too dangerous to do anything dramatic. Generally speaking, I’d say relations between police and protesters in Germany are better than in France. They mostly just face each other in silence. In France, we would have been forcefully evacuated by now.
We plan to protest all along the final stretch of road between Dannenberg and Gorleben. Farmers have joined the movement: they said they will block the road with their tractors. The whole region is mobilised: residents are sick of new shipments of nuclear waste being brought in year after year, especially because the entire region is paralysed every time.”
This morning in Dannenberg. Photo posted on YouTube by weltzufluss.
Castor train arrives in Dannenberg. Photo: Greenpeace
Post written in collaboration with France 24 journalist Ségolène Malterre.