Europe

Germany nuclear protesters clash with police

  • 24 November 2011
  • From the section Europe

Police in northern Germany have used water cannons against demonstrators waiting for the arrival of a shipment of nuclear waste from France.

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters after fireworks and paint were thrown at officers.

Protesters had tried to block a crossroads at Metzingen, near the shipment's destination.

French authorities have stopped the train in Remilly, short of the border.

Some reports quoted authorities as saying it would wait for 24 hours to avoid more mass protests, while others described it as a planned stop.

"It could take two hours or two days until the train resumes its journey," a French interior ministry spokesman told Reuters news agency.

"Whatever the time it takes, the important thing is that public order is guaranteed both on the French and German sides," he said.

The train had left Areva's nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in Normandy on Wednesday after a scuffle between police in riot gear and several hundred protesters who tried to occupy the train tracks near the town of Valognes.

"Demonstrations in Valognes were violent so we are taking all the necessary precaution to ensure the convoy resumes its journey in optimum conditions," the interior ministry spokesman said.

The train carrying nuclear waste to Germany has stopped in France, short of the border

It is the first waste shipment to Germany since Berlin decided to shut all its nuclear plants by 2022, following Japan's nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami in March.

The train was the last of 12 shipments of treated German nuclear waste sent in recent years from France.

The contract between Areva and German nuclear power producers has expired and is not expected to be renewed, as Germany has voted against the transportation of radioactive nuclear fuel.

The train is carrying 11 tubular containers of highly radioactive nuclear waste, that are due to be stored in Gorleben in northeast Germany.

But officials have not resolved where waste should be stored permanently and opponents argue that the Gorleben site is unsafe.

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