Thousands Protest Against German Nuclear Waste
DANNENBERG, Germany - Thousands of Germans rallied Saturday in a noisy but peaceful protest against the transport of reprocessed nuclear waste to a storage site.
Police counted about 3,000 demonstrators in the northern town of Dannenberg, while organizers said up to 6,000 took part in the rally also attended by farmers on about 100 tractors.
The demonstrators whistled and cheered as they listened to speeches demanding an immediate halt to the transport of nuclear waste to a storage site in Gorleben, north of Hanover, but there was none of the violence of protests in previous years.
\"We will continue to defend ourselves because we want to prevent a looming catastrophe for the next generation,\" anti-nuclear campaigner Jochen Stay said in a statement.
The center-left government in which Greens are junior partners agreed with industry in 2000 to phase out all reactors by around 2025. Power firms are also obliged to build on-site storage facilities for waste to avoid the unpopular transports.
A train carrying 12 containers with 1,300 tons of treated waste is set to leave the French reprocessing plant of La Hague Sunday evening. The waste will be loaded onto trucks in Dannenberg and is expected to arrive in Gorleben Wednesday.
The shipments to Gorleben have become the object of a ritual confrontation between police and anti-nuclear activists. Some 15,000 police were needed to guard the route in 2001 in the largest peacetime security operation in post-war German history.
Security costs have reached $23 million in past years.
Last year, protesters disrupted the passage of a train carrying the nuclear waste by setting tires on fire on the tracks and chaining themselves to the rails.
Police said they expected less trouble this year, but are still planning tight security particularly for the last stretch of the transport and up to 13,000 officers are on standby.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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