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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 19:34 GMT
Nuclear waste train reaches destination
The shipment reaches storage facility in Gorleben, Germany
It is the biggest ever return shipment from La Hague

A shipment of reprocessed nuclear waste has completed the rail journey across northern Europe, despite delays due to environmental protesters on the line.

It is the largest nuclear waste transport ever to return from the nuclear reprocessing plant in La Hague on the French coast.

The train has reached the rail-head of Dannenberg, south of Hamburg, where it will be transferred to trucks for the final stage of its journey to the storage facility in Gorleben.

The protests have been more low-key compared to previous years.

Protests

In a connected protest, the environmental group Greenpeace blockaded the coalition Green Party's headquarters in Berlin.

First we have to stop producing more nuclear waste. Secondly stop reprocessing, and then we can look for a final disposal facility

Sven Teske, Greenpeace

Twelve huge imitation nuclear containers on lorries rolled into position around the Green Party headquarters in the centre of the German capital.

The government voted in the last parliamentary term to phase out nuclear power over 20 years or more, but with the consent of the industry.

That is just too slow for many campaigners, who see it as a licence to continue for the life of the present nuclear reactors, rather than an order to stop.

Sven Teske of Greenpeace says nuclear reprocessing has to be halted immediately.
Police removes protesters
Police prevented the locomotive hitting a group of protesters on the tracks

"We have to protect nuclear waste for a million years, which is an unforeseeable time-frame.

"First we have to stop producing more nuclear waste. Secondly stop reprocessing, and then we can look for a final disposal facility," said Mr Teske.

Greenpeace believes there is a national responsibility.

Accident averted

The shipment of radioactive waste finally reached its destination at the railhead in Dannenberg after being delayed by a series of protests, including groups who chained themselves to the lines.

Others occupied the tracks to stop the 1300 tonnes of waste reaching the storage facility.

The police say a serious accident was narrowly averted earlier in the day when they flagged down a high-speed intercity train travelling at a 110 kmh, preventing the locomotive hitting a group of protesters on the tracks.

Nuclear waste remains highly controversial in Germany and local people fear the Gorleben facility could develop into a final repository - something they are keen to avoid.

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12 Nov 02 | Europe
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