German anti-nuclear activists block railway


LUENEBURG, Germany About a thousand anti-nuclear activists occupied a stretch of railway on Monday where a shipment of nuclear waste traveling back to Germany from France was due to pass on its way to a storage site.

The protesters managed to break through police lines and onto the railway tracks near the northern town of Lueneburg, where a high-security freight train shipping nuclear waste is due on Tuesday. Police were trying to move the activists.

On another stretch of the track near the village of Nahrendorf, police clashed with demonstrators, with police reporting that some 200 activists had damaged rail tracks.

A police spokesman said that as officers had tried to intervene, the group had fled into nearby trees, throwing flares at police.

In the nearby village of Dahlenburg, police also detained around 150 demonstrators whom they said had infringed a ban on protesters concealing their faces.

The train, made up of six flatcars carrying massive Castor containers with the nuclear waste and passenger cars fore and aft packed with police, left a Normandy train terminal before dawn and is due to cross into Germany late on Monday evening.

Continuing through the country, the containers are due to pass through Lueneburg and finally the nearby Danneberg rail depot late on Tuesday. They will then be loaded onto trucks to be driven on Wednesday to the Gorleben storage facility, 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. The last shipments to Gorleben in 1997 sparked pitched battles between police and anti-nuclear militants. Some 15,000 police officers have been drafted in to guard this year’s transport.

Fears of radioactive leaks aboard the transport trains prompted Germany to halt shipments in 1998. The French reprocessing agency Cogema says all the containers now meet international safety standards.