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Thread: Violent protests in Germany against nuclear waste train

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    Violent protests in Germany against nuclear waste train



    DANNENBERG, Germany (AFP) – Protests against a train carrying nuclear waste from France to Germany erupted in violence Sunday as police wielding batons charged activists trying to halt the cargo's progress.

    Around 1,000 activists attacked police on the tracks near Dannenberg, the final destination for the train before the waste is loaded onto trucks, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

    "Police responded with batons and water cannon," she said.

    "I can confirm there were arrests and people injured but I am not able to say how many," another police spokesman said.

    He added the activists appeared to be "members of the anarchist scene, who threw flares and fired tear gas at police."

    The new clashes followed earlier altercations between police and protesters during which authorities deployed pepper spray, tear gas and water cannon to disperse some 250 anti-nuclear activists trying to sabotage the tracks.

    During this clash, the activists managed temporarily to set fire to an armoured police vehicle. The fire was quickly extinguished and no officer was hurt, a police spokesman said.

    Christoph Kleine of the activist group "Aktion Castor" said the woods around the train tracks were "completely clouded with tear gas." Police helicopters were circling overhead.

    The train carrying the nuclear waste, dubbed by activists "the most radioactive ever", is heading for Dannenberg, where the 123 tonnes of waste will be loaded onto lorries for the nearby storage facility of Gorleben, in central Germany.

    At 1500 GMT, the train reached the town of Lueneburg, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Dannenberg.

    Activists were doing everything in their power to slow the progress of the train, which environmental group Greenpeace has called to be halted immediately "in the interests of public safety."

    Earlier Sunday, near the town of Morschen, around 300 kilometres from Dannenberg, a pair of activists backed by around 50 others managed to abseil from a bridge, causing a two-and-a-half hour delay, police said.

    Police said activists were also rushing the railway in small groups and scrapping out stones from under the track, making it impassable.

    "The police have repelled several attempts by small groups of protesters who were attempting to block the route," a police spokeswoman told AFP.

    The head of one group of protesters called for calm while placing the blame for the escalating violence squarely on authorities.

    "We do not want a debate about violence. We want a debate about nuclear power, yes or no," said Wolfgang Ehmke from the group "citizens' initiative Luechow-Dannenberg."

    After several delays, the train was running 10 hours late and a Greenpeace spokesman said its pace would likely slow further as it neared its destination.

    "We're expecting the train some time today, but the closer it gets to Dannenberg, the more actions there will be to stop it and the slower it will travel," a Greenpeace spokesman told AFP.

    On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Dannenberg to signal their opposition to the cargo. Organisers said 50,000 people had turned out but police said the figure was closer to 20,000.

    Around 16,000 police have been mobilised to deal with the protests in Germany.

    Germany's anti-nuclear campaigners have been outraged by a vote in parliament to extend the life of the country's 17 nuclear reactors which previously were meant to come offline in 2020.

    Opinion polls show that most Germans oppose parliament's decision.
    .






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    Re: Violent protests in Germany against nuclear waste train




    German riot police clash with anti-nuke protesters

    DANNENBERG, Germany – Activists rappelled down from a high bridge, broke through police lines and chained themselves to German train tracks Sunday, trying to halt a shipment of nuclear waste as they protested Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans to keep using nuclear energy.

    The train, which set off Friday from a reprocessing plant in France, was slowly heading for the city of Dannenberg, where containers carrying 123 tons of reprocessed nuclear waste were to be loaded onto trucks for the final leg of their journey to the disputed storage site at Gorleben.

    Riot police on Sunday tried to stop up to 4,000 protesters making their way through the woods onto the tracks near Dannenberg ahead of the nuclear waste train. Police used water cannons and pepper spray and wrestled with activists to break up the protest, but some still reached the rail line.

    Some protesters poured flammable liquid on a police vehicle and set it alight. There was no immediate word on arrests.

    Anti-nuclear protests have gained new momentum from Merkel's decision to extend the life of Germany's 17 atomic power plants by an average of 12 years.

    Merkel says the move is necessary to keep energy cheap and readily available as Germany works to ramp up its renewable energy sources. Critics call the nuclear plan a windfall for Germany's biggest energy companies and for the government, which is demanding huge payouts from the companies to make the transition to renewable sources.

    Nuclear energy has been unpopular since fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine drifted over Germany, and the country has no plans to build new nuclear plants.

    Earlier Sunday in central Germany, a pair of activists rappelled off a 250-foot-high (75-meter-high) bridge holding an anti-nuclear banner, while about 50 others crowded onto the tracks, according to federal police spokeswoman Cora Thiele.

    The protest stopped the train, but police hauled the demonstrators away and the train continued on. The two protesters who rappelled from the bridge and three others were taken into custody, Thiele said.

    Some 50 to 60 tractors blocked the main road between Dannenberg and Gorleben but they were cleared away by police. The roughly 12-mile (20-kilometer) road was lined with police trucks.

    The train was gradually nearing the area, but had to make another two stops because of people on the tracks. In one case, police had to dislodge three protesters who had chained themselves to the line.

    Wolfgang Ehmke, a spokesman for a local anti-nuclear group, said blockades aimed "to delay the arrival of the shipment and at the same time mess up the timetable for the (government's) nuclear policy." He called on both sides to refrain from violence.

    On Saturday, at least 25,000 people — organizers gave the figure as more than 50,000 — demonstrated outside Dannenberg, the biggest protest ever against the shipments.

    Activists say neither the waste containers nor the Gorleben site, a temporary storage facility, are safe. The waste is stored in a warehouse near a disused salt mine that has been earmarked as a possible permanent storage site.

    Protests against the regular waste shipments faded somewhat after a previous government embarked a decade ago on plans to phase nuclear power out entirely by 2021 — but this year Merkel's government decided to extend the life of the nuclear plants. Parliament approved the plan last month.

    Germany receives waste shipments roughly every year under an agreement that sees spent fuel sent to France for reprocessing and returned for storage. Safety measures for the shipment involved sealing the solid nuclear waste in glass that is in turn encased in 16-inch (40-centimeter) -thick steel containers.

    Authorities wouldn't say specifically when the train is scheduled to reach Dannenberg, but it was expected later Sunday.
    .






    In a perfect world, our dreams will be fulfilled. There would be no hard work or planning ahead, because everything you want would be given to you. In the real world, where we all live, rewards must be earned. The problem most people have is in the day-to-day details of accomplishment. Accomplishment takes a lot of time, sacrifice and effort, and that’s the real rub for a lot of people. But, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

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