It may have been the last shipment of nuclear waste between France and German but that did not diminish protesters’ anger. French police used teargas and baton charges to try control the activists who vowed to disrupt the convoy of highly radioactive material.
Several hundred protesters tried to occupy the rail tracks outside the town of Valognes. They were chased off but regrouped elsewhere. Along the line junction boxes were burned out and parts of the track damaged. The protests and vandalism delayed the departure, but ultimately did not prevent it. Greenpeace, which supports peaceful protests, condemned the violence.
The waste from German nuclear sites is making a 700km journey from a reprocessing plant in northwestern France to a storage facility in Gorleben. Previous shipments have given rise to similar protests. Campaigners in France and Germany say moving such toxic material across land is an accident waiting to happen.
But this will be the last the time the dangerous cargo is transported across the two countries. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster Germany has decided to phase out its use of nuclear power plants and will no longer be sending waste to France.