Nuclear waste convoy spurs protests in France

Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:31pm IST

Anti-nuclear demonstrators hold a banner ''stop nuclear waste train'' in a field in Lieusaint near Valognes November 23, 2011 as they try to enter on the tracks before the departure of the train convoy of CASTOR containers which carry radioactive nuclear waste. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Anti-nuclear demonstrators hold a banner ''stop nuclear waste train'' in a field in Lieusaint near Valognes November 23, 2011 as they try to enter on the tracks before the departure of the train convoy of CASTOR containers which carry radioactive nuclear waste.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

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par Pierre-Henri Allain

VALOGNES, France (Reuters) - French anti-nuclear activists and police scuffled on Wednesday in Normandy as a train convoy transporting radioactive waste processed by nuclear producer Areva prepared to head to its storage site in Germany.

Several hundred protesters tried to occupy the train tracks a few kilometers outside the town of Valognes in northwestern France before being repelled by police in riot gear. Police said they detained five people.

Activists played a cat and mouse game with police forces, who launched canisters of tear gas and charged the crowd with batons.

"This movement is the indignation of people who are aware of the dangers of nuclear and who reject politics geared only toward the profit of certain businesses," said a 60-year-old activist, who did not want to give his name.

The trains - which were scheduled to depart about 13:30 GMT - will carry 11 tubular containers of highly radioactive nuclear waste processed by Areva in the treatment plant at nearby La Hague.

The waste, which originates from German nuclear plants, is en route to the nuclear waste facility of Gorleben in northeastern Germany.

Earlier convoys have been met with similar protests in France and Germany alike. Activists say the convoys could pose a danger to the environment and population if there to be an accident en route.

(Additional reporting by Antony Paone; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Geert De Clercq and Mark Heinrich)

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