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Germans Protest Nuclear Waste Shipment

Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop

Dannenberg, Germany: Hundreds of anti- nuclear activists took to the streets this week, hoping to stop a shipment of atomic waste scheduled for delivery to a nuclear waste site in northern Germany.

Banners reading "Chernobyl on tour" could be seen on the main street of Dannenberg, as tractors blocked the site of a rail terminal from which the waste containers will be transported by road to the dump at Gorleben, long a focus of Germany's anti-nuclear movement. A series of blockades were staged throughout northern Germany.

The train carrying six containers of nuclear waste began its journey at a reprocessing plant in LaHague, France. The trainload of waste is being protected by approximately 15,000 police officers while being carried through Germany.

Authorities imposed restrictions on low-flying aircraft over the last stretch of the route, but police said the measure was routine and not linked to fears of terrorism.

Police lines near Dannenberg were broken through by hundreds of protesters as they carried placards with the names of local villages. The protectors were hoping to reach a road where the shipment of waste was expected to pass. Police using horses and dogs pushed the protesters back, and a small group was dragged away from the road. Over 30 people were detained for ignoring the ban on gatherings within 50 yards of the shipment route.

German power companies and the government agreed this year to phase out nuclear power. But the shutdown will take about 20 years and is considered to slow for the anti nuclear activists.

Germany sends spent nuclear fuel to France for reprocessing under contracts that oblige it to take back the waste, shipments that protesters maintain are safe.

"It's cat and mouse with the police," said Jana Teltemann, a 21-year-old student.

"We can't stop the shipments, but if no body goes onto the streets, things would just get worse," said Ursula Nass, a 60 year old Dannenberg resident.

Authorities are determined to prevent a repeat of protests that disrupted the last waste transport in March, which environmentalists delayed for 16 hours by chaining themselves to the tracks.