France - Germany

French nuclear waste heads for Germany despite protests

Reuters/Christian Charisius

A convoy of nuclear waste is on its way from Normandy, northern France, to Germany after being held up for 14 hours by protesters. The waste, from French nuclear company Areva, is at least twice as dangerous as all the radiation produced by the Chenobyl disaster, according to environmental group Greenpeace.


The convoy left Valognes station at about 2.20pm local time on Friday and is scheduled to arrive in Gorleben on Saturday.

Ecologists say it is the most radioactive material ever. Some 30,000 people are expected to join protests along the route and 16,000 policemen have been deployed.

The convoy contains 123 tonnes of hardened waste, some 308 containers, which corresponds to the electrical consumption of 24 million Germans for a year.

"Why have we calling for these demonstrations?" organiser Laura Hameaux said to RFI. "Firstly to bring to light the existence of this convoy, because this sort of convoy is always kept secret. We want to let the public know that such a radioactive train is passing through France, in their stations and near their homes. And we want to point out that nuclear powes is an impasse."

An Areva spokesperson has said the protests are a smokescreen by anti-nuclear protesters to hide the fact that nuclear energy is taking off again in almost all European countries. 

He added that the train was a "fortress on wheels", and dismissed concerns it could leak.

Last week German MPs voted for a bill prolonging the average life of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors by 12 years. The country is due to stop using nuclear energy in 2020.

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