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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 07:22 GMT
German nuclear train beats demo
Police move protesters from road blockade
Some protesters did manage to delay the train
A huge police operation in north-western Germany has prevented anti-nuclear activists from stopping a train carrying nuclear waste from France.

Thirty-thousand police officers were deployed along the route; some used batons and dogs to remove demonstrators who tried to block the line.

The train, with six containers of nuclear waste, was escorted by a fleet of police helicopters on the final stretch of its journey to the German city of Dannenberg.

From there, it was transported by road to a nearby storage site at Gorleben.

The 1,500km (940-mile) journey from a reprocessing plant in France has been beset by demonstrations from protesters - although in far fewer numbers than earlier this year, when a similar convoy passed through.

German police behind barbed wire
15,000 German police were on hand
Up to 1,000 demonstrators had gathered at Dannenberg, the shipment's last rail stop, but they were kept at least 500 metres (yards) back from the fortified unloading area in a field outside the town.

Protester Maik Weidemann, said: "You just can't get anywhere near the track. We've been denied the right to demonstrate."

The police were clad in riot gear and joined by armoured vehicles carrying water cannon.

Police said they had briefly detained about 100 people, and a number of people were treated for injuries, including some who had been bitten by police dogs and struck by batons.

Previous clashes

Protesters did manage to delay the train by chaining themselves to the rail tracks and trees along the train's route, but they were swiftly removed by police.

Dannenberg was the scene of the most violent protests during a similar shipment of waste earlier this year. At that time the police bill was around 50 million marks.

"It won't be any less this time," said a police spokesman.

German obligation

It was not immediately clear when the road shipment would proceed to the Gorleben storage facility, although authorities said the transfer of the six containers of waste onto road vehicles would take about six hours.

The nuclear shipment is being returned from a reprocessing facility at La Hague in France and is the second such train this year.

The last train to make the journey, in March, was beset by protests and delayed for 16 hours.

Germany has no reprocessing plant of its own and is legally obliged to take back the spent fuel abroad for treatment.

The government has agreed to phase out nuclear power over a period of 20 years, but that is far too long for many anti-nuclear protesters, for whom the twice-yearly shipments to Gorleben have become the principal focus of their campaigning.

The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"The train arrived here in the late afternoon"
See also:

11 Nov 01 | Europe
Nuclear train heads for Germany
23 Apr 01 | Europe
Germany's nuclear waste headache
28 Mar 01 | Europe
Germany's anti-nuclear protesters
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Nuclear waste: A long-lived legacy
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