German Police, Demonstrators Clash at Anti-nuclear Protests

Posted November 26th, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Police in northern Germany used water cannon Saturday to disperse anti-nuclear demonstrators who tried to block a train carrying nuclear waste from France.

Thousands of people gathered near the town of Dannenberg to hold a peaceful rally. Organizers put the figure at 23,000 people. Several victims of Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima joined the protesters.

Anti-nuclear demonstrators scuffled with police near the nuclear storage facility in Gorleben. In some places protesters were able to break through the police cordon to sit on the tracks to prevent the train from passing. Some activists apparently tried to damage the tracks.

Germany has mobilized about 20,000 police officers to secure the shipment in the country.

The French train carrying 11 containers of reprocessed nuclear waste is expected to reach its destination in the next day or two.

Protesters have expressed concern that the waste shipment could endanger the environment and population in case of an accident.

French authorities had stopped the train Thursday before it reached the German border, in hopes of avoiding protests over the radioactive material in Germany.

This is expected to be the final transfer of reprocessed nuclear waste from France into Germany, which has voted against taking more of the radioactive fuel. In the wake of the March nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plant, the German government promised to phase out all 17 of the country's nuclear power stations by 2022.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that cutting France's dependence on nuclear energy would destroy jobs and run up energy prices. France relies on nuclear power for more than 75 percent of its energy.