German police clash with anti-nuclear activists

German police clashed on Sunday with anti-nuclear activists trying to disrupt a shipment of nuclear waste heading to a storage dump, using truncheons and tear gas to clear a blocked rail line.

Updated: Nov 07, 2010, 21:17 PM IST

Dannenberg: German police clashed on Sunday with anti-nuclear activists trying to disrupt a shipment of nuclear waste heading to a storage dump, using truncheons and tear gas to clear a blocked rail line.

A police spokesman said some 250 activists had tried to damage the track near the waste dump to halt a train carrying the waste. When police tried to stop them, the activists responded with tear gas and flare guns.

"The situation is not yet under control," said another police spokesman.

Riot police used truncheons, tear gas and water cannon to stop the violent activists, who were part of a larger group of about 4,000 protesters near the town of Leitstade trying to halt the train. A police vehicle was set on fire, police said.

About a dozen protesters were injured, demonstrators were quoted as saying by local media reports. Police could not confirm any injuries.

The waste shipment has become a tense political issue this year due to anger over Chancellor Angela Merkel`s decision to extend the lifespan of Germany`s 17 nuclear power plants despite overwhelming public opposition.

The waste originated in Germany and was reprocessed at the French nuclear group Areva`s processing plant at La Hague for storage in a site in the northern German town of Gorleben.

The train was held up repeatedly on its way across France and Germany on a journey that began on Friday. In Germany thousands staged sit down strikes on tracks and others lowered themselves on ropes from bridges to prevent the train from passing. They were removed by police.

The waste shipment is expected to arrive in Gorleben, near the central town of Dannenberg, later on Sunday.

Merkel`s government has slumped in popularity due largely to its decision to extend nuclear power by about 12 years beyond the original shut-down set for 2021. Germany gets 23 percent of its power from nuclear plants.

Scenes of violence in previous transports have contributed to Germany`s strong anti-nuclear mood.

Protesters fear the depot at Gorleben, built as an interim storage site, could become permanent. Greenpeace says the site, in a disused salt mine, would be unsafe over the long term.

Bureau Report