German police on Nov. 27 battled thousands of anti-nuclear protestors—many chained to railroad tracks—who blocked the shipment of radioactive waste returning from a French treatment plant. The rail convoy was halted for 18 hours outside its final destination at Dannenberg, including overnight, amid mass demonstrations. Protesters boasted that the blockade’s duration now topped the record set during a shipment one year ago. Police said they detained about 1,300 people. The 150 tons of uranium waste, originally from German nuclear plants, was being moved in 11 containers from a facility run by the French nuclear giant Areva in Valognes, Normandy. It was the last of 12 shipments, because of a German move away from nuclear power.
The protesters assert that the rail shipment of spent fuel rods is hazardous, and note that Germany has no permanent storage site for the waste—nor does any other European country. They are protest that a pledged German phase-out of nuclear power—hastily announced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan—will take another decade to implement. “It’s like a friend telling you that he will stop smoking in 10 years,” said Jochen Stay, spokesman for the anti-nuclear body Ausgestrahlt (Radiated). (PhysOrg, AFP, Nov. 28; BBC News, Dec. 27)