- environment - France - Germany
Delayed by protests, nuclear convoy finally arrives in Germany
A convoy of trucks carrying 123 tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear waste arrived at a storage site in Germany Tuesday, following days of furious protests that massively delayed the delivery.
REUTERS - German police cleared roadblocks and carried off protesters to enable a convoy of nuclear waste from France to reach a German storage site on Tuesday, ending a tortuous five-day odyssey.
After days of largely peaceful stand-offs between anti-nuclear demonstrators and police, trucks with 11 containers of waste completed the last 20 km (12 mile) leg of the trip from the town of Dannenberg to the storage site in Gorleben.
Police removed the last of some 3,000 protesters trying to block the delivery. Similar convoys have been bringing atomic waste to the site for years but had never been held up for so long.
The final stretch took the slow-moving trucks around an hour, bringing in the containers over a day later than planned.
The demonstrators, who have been joined by lawmakers from the resurgent opposition Green Party, fear the interim depot in an abandoned salt mine could become a permanent dump -- which Greenpeace says would be geologically unsafe in the long term.
They have also been incensed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to extend the lifespan of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants, despite overwhelming public opposition.
Activists slowed the police, some 17,000 of whom were mobilised to deal with the protest at the weekend, by locking themselves to objects including pipes and a concrete pyramid.
Thousands sat down on train tracks during the convoy's rail journey from a reprocessing site in France over the weekend, while others lowered themselves from bridges on ropes.
German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen has rejected calls to have nuclear operators pay for some of the cost.
Germany gets 23 percent of its power from 17 nuclear plants run by Vattenfall, RWE, E.ON and EnBW.
The 154 tonnes of nuclear waste originated from German nuclear plants and were reprocessed at the French nuclear group Areva's processing plant at La Hague, from where they were transported to Gorleben.
Separately, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the German government was preparing to strike a deal to remove atomic waste from the western town of Ahaus to a Russian nuclear facility in Mayak in the southern reaches of the Ural mountains.
According to the plan, three waste convoys would be sent from Ahaus to Russia with a total of 951 fuel rods, the paper said, citing government officials.