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France halts nuclear train at German border amid protests

Reuters/Vincent Kessler

French authorities on Thursday ordered a trainload of reprocessed nuclear waste to be halted en route to Germany near the border for 24 hours in a bid to avoid more protests.



Riot police battled with anti-nuclear protestors when it began its journey in northern France on Wednesday and thousands more anti-nuclear demonstrators were expected to try to block it once it crossed the frontier.

The train was halted at Remilly junction, 50 kilometres from the border while nuclear company Areva, French rail company SNCF and the police decide which of three possible routes it can now take, a security source said.

A heavy police presence was deployed in and around the small town and on the tracks leading to and from the station, where a dozen buses full of riot police were on standby.

German police were due to take over from their French counterparts once the train, carrying the last German nuclear waste to be reprocessed in France, resumes its 1,500-kilometre trip to Gorleben in eastern Germany.

Last November a similar convoy took 91 hours to arrive at its final destination, an entire day longer than planned, as it was dogged the length of the route by French and then German protesters.

In the aftermath of Japan's Fukushima disaster, Germany decided to phase out its use of nuclear power, and thus bring to an end the controversial practice of sending radioactive waste overland to France for reprocessing.

The final shipment left a railway yard in the town of Valognes in Normandy, northwest France, more than an hour late Wednesday after police played cat and mouse with hundreds of activists, firing teargas and arresting 16 people.

After this last shipment, Germany will no longer send nuclear waste for reprocessing
in France, but will instead stockpile it until a way is found to make it safe.



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