Protesters in Germany dangle themselves over railroad tracks to delay nuclear waste shipment

Sunday, November 12th 2006, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

BERLIN (AP) Protesters who suspended themselves from a rope across railroad tracks Sunday temporarily stopped a train carrying reprocessed nuclear waste in Germany.

The activists from the environmental organization Robin Wood stretched the rope between trees on either side of the tracks about several miles from the train's destination in the northern city of Dannenberg. Two activists, supported by two more in the trees, then climbed across the rope and chained themselves to it, dangling over the tracks.

The group called it a ``symbolic action,'' and police were able to quickly clear the way for the train to proceed. It was carrying reprocessed nuclear waste to a German storage facility from France.

The protest was one of many small demonstrations along the route that slowed the train, which left late Friday from the French town of Valognes.

After reaching Dannenberg in the afternoon, the waste containers were loaded onto trucks to be driven to nearby Gorleben for storage. The trucks were scheduled to arrive on Monday.

The annual shipment is sent to Gorleben under an agreement that sees spent fuel from Germany's nuclear power plants transferred to France and Britain for reprocessing before being returned for storage. Gorleben has been a traditional focus of anti-nuclear protests, and the shipments have in the past led to clashes between demonstrators and police.

Activists argue that neither the waste containers nor the Gorleben site, currently a temporary storage facility, are safe. The waste is stored in a warehouse near an old salt mine that has been deemed a suitable, permanent underground storage site.

The protest movement has faded somewhat since the German government embarked in 2003 on plans to phase out nuclear power, but activists complain that the two-decade timetable for closing Germany's nuclear plants is too slow.