Monday, November 08, 2010

Mass German anti-nuclear rally against waste shipment

Police tussles with demonstrators as they clear an area where anti-nuclear activists digged a hole beside the possible Castor transportation route in Splietau near Dannenberg November 6, 2010.
Credit: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

By Annika Breidthardt

DANNENBERG, Germany | Reuters, Nov 6, 2010

DANNENBERG, Germany (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of protesters took part in one of the largest anti-nuclear rallies in years Saturday as the first shipment of waste in two years was slowed by activists on its way from France back to Germany.

The transport has become a tense political issue this year due to anger over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to extend the lifespan of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants in the face of overwhelming public opposition.

The waste transported Saturday originated in Germany and was reprocessed at the French nuclear group Areva’s processing plant at La Hague for storage in a site in the northern German town of Gorleben.

Merkel urged those taking part in the rally to refrain from committing criminal acts while attempting to stop the convoy of 11 train cars carrying 154 metric tones of waste.

The train was held up for hours by an earlier demonstration near the German-French border when thousands of activists blocked the tracks. The waste shipment is expected to arrive in Gorleben, near the central city of Dannenberg, Sunday.

There were some isolated scuffles between demostrators and police. Also a group of about 150 protesters were trying to dig a tunnel under one road near Gorleben to make it impassable. They threw stones at police attempting to stop them. The police responded with clubs and pepper spray.

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