Sunday, 7 November 2010

Germans battle to halt nuclear train

AN ARMOURED police vehicle has been torched by protesters trying to stop a train of nuclear waste from crossing Germany.

Reports The Independent: "Riot police using water cannon, teargas and baton charges fought thousands of demonstrators attempting to halt the shipment of 123 tons of atomic waste to a disputed storage site in northern Germany yesterday.

"More than 30,000 protesters took to fields, roads, lanes and railway tracks around the northern town of Danneberg to try to stop the movement – initially by rail and then road – of nuclear waste containers sent from France for storage in a disused salt mine close to the nearby village of Gorleben.

"The protests, which amounted to one of the largest anti-nuclear demonstrations in Germany for 30 years, were given added momentum by Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent decision to extend the life of the country's 17 nuclear power stations by an average of 12 years.

"Wolfgang Ehmke, a spokesman for protesters, said the attempts to disrupt the shipment through blockades and demonstrators chaining themselves to the tracks were not only meant to delay the arrival of atomic waste but were 'also meant to mess up the timetable for the government's nuclear policy'.

"Demonstrators used an array of different techniques to try to stop the shipment, which has been called 'Chernobyl on wheels'. Militant activists tried to rip up the train tracks due to carry the waste shipment by digging out the earth from under the rails.

"Squads of helmeted riot police equipped with batons and tear gas grenades tried to disperse the group. They were met by a hail of fireworks and stones. An armoured police vehicle was set ablaze in the clashes.

"Police eventually used water cannon to dispel the protesters. They made dozens of arrests. Both sides accused each other of violence.

"In other incidents, protesters abseiled down to rail tracks from a bridge and chained themselves to the rails. Police were forced to clear away some 60 tractors blocking the main road between Dannenberg and the Gorleben storage site some 12km away."

Video footage can be seen here.