Despite Protests, Train Hauling Nuclear Waste Arrives In Northern Germany

After three days of protests and occasional violent clashes with the police, a train hauling 123 tons of nuclear waste arrived Monday in northern Germany, where the load was transferred to trucks for the final journey — and a final gauntlet of protesters camped outside the storage facility in the small city of Gorleben.

The nuclear waste, which had been reprocessed in France, was expected to enter the storage facility near the former Gorleben salt mines late Monday or early Tuesday. But even with the mission nearly completed, and the crowds soon dispersed, the growing public opposition to the government’s nuclear policy was expected to have long-term repercussions for Germany’s political landscape and its balance of power, experts said and multiple national polls showed.

Germany has stored radioactive waste in Gorleben for three decades. And for three decades, protesters have tried to block transport of that waste, blowing whistles and chaining themselves to railroad tracks. But this year’s demonstrations were the largest, officials said, reflecting widespread anger with the government’s decision to extend the life of the nation’s 17 nuclear plants by an average of 12 years.

On Monday, about 4,000 protesters forced a 12-hour delay by blocking the tracks before the train could make its way to Dannenberg — only to have local farmers try to block the road using sheep, goats and tractors, according to wire service reports and television broadcasts. More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested and detained in the last three days. "