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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
German nuclear train nears end
Anti-nuclear protestors chained themselves to the track
Anti-nuclear protests have dogged the train
A consignment of nuclear fuel from Germany has completed its rail journey through France, despite protests along the way.

The consignment of spent fuel rods has arrived at the town of Valognes in north-western France and will complete the final 40km (25 miles) to the reprocessing plant at La Hague by road.

The five-car train, which is carrying spent nuclear fuel rods from three German reactors, has been dogged by protests. German police say 160 people were arrested.

The shipment is the first to be sent from German nuclear plants to France in three years and follows a decision in 1998 to suspend such shipments after the discovery of high radiation levels during the handling of waste containers.


Earlier on Monday, the nuclear train was briefly delayed by anti-nuclear protesters.

The French news agency AFP reported that about 40 protesters held up the train at the Conflans Fin d'Oise station to the west of Paris, just after dawn.

They set fire to crates piled on the tracks, but dispersed peacefully after about 40 minutes.

Protestors clash with German police
Police and protesters clash near Philippsburg
The French protesters said in a statement that they opposed "once again that France should take on the role as the world's nuclear waste bin", French news agency AFP reported.

Around 100 of the German arrests came amid clashes with police near the Philippsburg nuclear power station. Other activists were detained in Bavaria.

Last month, a train bringing nuclear waste back from the same plant in France was delayed by up to 24 hours as protesters chained themselves to the rails.

Nuclear fuel convoy
The final cost of policing the last operation was put at $50m
The latest protest actions come two weeks after thousands of protesters held up six containers of nuclear waste which were being returned from France following reprocessing.

Protesters had hoped to repeat their earlier success, when it took 30,000 police officers across Germany to clear a path for the shipment.

Policing them cost more than $50m, and embarrassed the governing Red-Green coalition which is committed to ending nuclear power within 30 years.


Some environmentalists say this is not fast enough, and have vowed to continue their protests until reprocessing abroad is halted.

The nuclear fuel rods began their journey in three German states - Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hessen.

Their final destination is the Cogema reprocessing plant at La Hague.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Europe
Nuclear waste reaches depot
26 Mar 01 | Europe
Nuclear nightmare for Greens
28 Mar 01 | Europe
Germany's anti-nuclear protesters
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Nuclear waste: A long-lived legacy
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