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Activists Halt Progress of Train Carrying Nuclear Waste

Anti-nuclear activists stand in front of the German riot police during clashes near Leitstade, northern Germany, 07 Nov 2010.

German police clashed Sunday with activists trying to stop a train carrying nuclear waste from France to a storage facility in Germany.

As two protesters dangled from a bridge above the train's route, dozens of other activists blocked the tracks, temporarily halting the train. Police using batons and tear gas dispersed the crowd and the train resumed its trip.

German police are bracing for massive protests in the town of Dannenberg, where the nuclear waste is due to be transferred to trucks for the remainder of its trip to a storage facility at Gorleben.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday at Berg, a town on the German side of the border with France. No violence was reported.

The nuclear waste was generated by German power plants and had been treated at a French reprocessing plant, operated by Areva nuclear group.

The train was delayed for several hours Friday because a group of environmental activists chained themselves to tracks outside a station in Caen in northwestern France.

The activists argue that the temporary storage facility at Gorleben is not safe. They also say the nuclear waste aboard the train has radioactivity levels twice as high as those generated by Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in 1986.

A spokesman for Areva, Christophe Neugnot, denied those claims, and says the nuclear waste is sealed in safe containers. He described the train as "fortress on wheels."

Nuclear power generation is seeing a comeback in many countries as they try to reduce dependence on oil, gas and coal for energy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.