Anti-nuclear protestors chained themselves to train tracks in France Friday, blocking a nuclear waste delivery billed by opponents as the “most radioactive in history” on its way to Germany.
Four protestors were chained to tracks a few hundred metres from Caen station in north-western France, activists said, shortly after the train departed for Gorleben in Germany.
Protestors unfurled a banner reading, “Our resistance knows no borders,” said a statement from the Ganva non-violent anti-nuclear group.
“This nuclear convoy, the most radioactive ever, exposes the population to excessive risks. There is a risk to lives in the short term in case of an accident, but also a long-term the risk to their health,” the statement said.
The train, which environmental lobby groups say is carrying waste with twice the radioactivity of the Chernobyl disaster, is headed to Gorleben in Germany.
The waste is on its way back to Germany – where it was initially created in the generation of electricity – after being treated at a plant in France by nuclear giant Areva.
It consists of 14 carriages, 11 holding waste and three with riot police.
Areva spokesman Christophe Neugnot called criticism from groups such as Greenpeace “a smokescreen for anti-nuclear protestors to hide the fact that nuclear energy is taking off again in almost all European countries.”
He dismissed concerns about possible leaks in transit, describing the train as a “fortress on wheels. The containers would survive a train hitting them at full speed.”
Areva has also rejected the “most radioactive” tag, insisting the cargo is not as radioactive as the last load of waste they shipped back to Germany.
Around 30,000 demonstrators are expected to oppose the train’s arrival in Germany, where around 16,000 police have reportedly been mobilised to deal with protests.