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Castor - a real opportunity?

In October anti-nuclear activists in Germany recommenced their resistance to nuclear waste transports (Castor) - one of which is due to leave the nuclear power station at Philippsburg in the south of Germany for the reprocessing plant in La Hague, France.

This would have been the first Castor transport since the one to Ahaus (see PN April 1998) and the total ban on transports following the discovery of radioactive contamination of rolling stock (see PN July 1998). This would also have been the first transport since the red-green government took power in October 1998, and reached the so-called “nuclear consensus” with the nuclear industry, wrongly presented as a slow process to shut down all nuclear power stations.

The strategy of anti-nuclear activists is quite simple. Some nuclear power stations have a serious problem: their internal storage capacity is full and if they don't manage to transport their spent fuel rods within a few months and exchange them for fresh ones, they simply have to shut down. For the first time - a real chance to close a nuclear power station through nonviolent direct action!

In October came the first test for this strategy. Earlier this year the government lifted the ban on nuclear transports, and in September the proposal for the Philippsburg transport was announced. After learning about the proposal, activists sprang into action, mobilising around 1,500 for a “Sunday walk” at the power station, with 200 staying on for more actions. A camp was set up which the police managed to tolerate for one night before confiscating the toilet and kitchen facilities and searching everyone who was leaving a camp storage hall in a nearby village.

By the middle of October, activists had learned that the transport was not going to take place as scheduled after all, yet a planned demonstration still went ahead. Around 100 activists were arrested and taken to “arrest centres” following a mass blockade.

Nobody knows how long the Philippsburg transport has been postponed for, but the nuclear industry has a tight schedule, so it must go ahead fairly soon. It is therefore essential that pressure is kept up because, as actions like these demonstrate, there is a real opportunity to bring an end to the nuclear industry in Germany.

For more info on Castor resistance: +49 4231 957 566; fax 957565; email info@x1000malquer.de; http://www.x1000malquer.de).

Andreas Speck is an anti-nuclear activist and WRI Executive member.

Topics: Nuclear Power | Europe