Friday, December 23, 2011

German Nuclear Waste Shipment Protest

On Wednesday, November 23 2011, a train carrying 11 tubular containers of highly radioactive nuclear waste departed Normandy, France. The nuclear waste, which originated in German reactors years ago and was processed for storage by a French firm, is now bound for a temporary storage facility in a former salt mine near Gorleben, Germany. 

The 750-mile trip has taken far longer than anticipated, due to thousands of protesters causing disruptions along the way. Staging sit-ins, chaining themselves to the rails, and even sabotaging the railway, demonstrators are denouncing the transportation of dangerous material through populated areas. This is the last of 12 contractually obligated shipments of nuclear waste from France. Germany recently pledged a complete phase-out of nuclear power within a decade and has already shut down 8 of its 17 reactors. 

Hundreds of demonstrators were removed from railroads and streets by an estimated 20,000 police deployed along the German portion of the route, and the shipment is now near its final destination.

Two girls have their faces painted with the symbol for nuclear radiation as they attend a demonstration by pupils from a local school against the unsafe storage of nuclear waste, on November 24, 2011 in Luechow, Germany. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

One of eleven Castor (Cask for Storage and Transport of Radioactive material) nuclear waste containers is lifted from a train onto a truck at an embarking station in Dannenberg south of Hamburg, on November 28, 2011. The controversial shipment of Castor containers with spent German nuclear fuel from the French reprocessing plant in La Hague will be loaded onto trucks in Dannenberg before its final transportation to the nearby intermediate storage facility in the northern Germany village of Gorleben. (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)  

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