German protests as nuclear train enters from France

Thermal imaging shows police guarding the nuclear waste train near Saarbruecken, 25 November This thermal imaging shows German police guarding the nuclear waste train

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A train carrying reprocessed nuclear waste has left France under heavy police protection en route to a storage site in northern Germany.

The rail shipment from the Areva plant at La Hague was delayed by anti-nuclear demonstrators in France and new protests are being held inside Germany.

Areva denies transportation of the waste poses a risk to the environment.

It is the last of 12 such shipments because of a German move away from nuclear power.

More than 150 tonnes of recycled uranium is aboard the train, made up of 11 container wagons.

Some 20,000 police officers have been deployed in Germany to protect it from thousands of protesters.

Protesters attack a police car near Metzingen, Germany, 25 November Protesters attacked a police car near Metzingen on Friday

When the train left a station near Metz on Friday morning, it had 60 German police guards and a French special weapons police team aboard, AFP news agency reports.

It crossed the frontier in the border town of Forbach, just south of Saarbruecken, en route to Gorleben in the north.

'Smaller than last year'

When the train started out from north-western France on Wednesday, riot police were used to remove protesters who tried to block tracks.

Twelve arrests were made in the violent clashes which erupted.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this year that all of her country's nuclear plants would be shut down by 2022.

German police said fewer demonstrators were anticipated than in previous years.

BBC map

"The police do expect protests, but against the backdrop of the changed political situation we expect them to be smaller than last year," said police spokesman Markus Scharf.

German police used water cannons late on Thursday when protesters tried to block a crossroads at Metzingen, near the shipment's destination, after fireworks and paint were thrown at officers.

Some new attacks on police were reported near Metzingen on Friday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has rejected calls to close down France's own nuclear industry, which is a major source of revenue.

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