Thousands say "NO" to nuclear waste as Castor passes through

IssueDecember 2006 - January 2007
News by Kat Barton

Activists throughout France and Germany staged a series of actions over a two-week period in November, in protest at the transportation of 12 containers of highly radioactive nuclear waste across their borders.

The Castor containers were transporting German waste from the La Hague plutonium factory in Northern France - where it is reprocessed - to Gorleben in northern Germany, where it is sent for so-called interim storage.

Active resistance

In recent years, Castor transportations have been met with active resistance from both antinuclear activists and members of the local communities who live along the train's route. Opposition is strong and both police and activists were anticipating a heated atmosphere prior to this year's transportation, following the clashes between police and activists in 2001 and the death of French activist Se'bastien Briat in 2004 when he was sucked under a Castor train.

This year, thousands of activists were dotted along the train's route, with actions taking place well before the train's departure on Friday 17 November. The weekend before, on 11 November, a big rally took place in Gorleben with 6000 protesters, 200 tractors and a front-end loader. As the train departed on 17 November, 600 students demonstrated in Luchow, and then on 18 November, 4000 demonstrated in Hitzacker whilst at Metzingen 350 people blockaded the main road from Luneburg to Dannenberg by setting barricades on fire.

On 19 November, the train was stopped several times by a number of blockades which included a 120-tractor farmers' blockade and numerous barricades which were set up along the railway tracks after hundreds of people hid in the woods. All day on 20 November blockades and other actions prevented Castor from reaching its destination, with its final arrival in Gorleben at 6am on 21 November.

This year, the Castor transportation brought together a large number of people and resulted in some very successful actions - an excellent practice run for activists as Germany prepares to host the G8 summit in June 2007.

Topics: Nuclear Power