A train carrying "Castors" of nuclear waste from France to Germany ran over a protestor who had chained himself to the tracks, severing both of his legs. He died of his injuries a short while later, police reported.
Protestors frequently act as human obstacles to delay the transport
A 23-year old environmental activist paid the ultimate price for his convictions on Sunday. Despite a large security operation, the young man managed to chain himself to the railway tracks near Avricourt, in protest of the latest transport of nuclear waste from a French reprocessing plant in La Hague to a storage facility in Gorleben, Germany.
A spokeswoman for France's SNCF rail operator said the train's driver noticed a group of people sitting on the tracks, and pulled the emergency brake. "One of the people remained sitting, and his legs were cut off and he has died," the spokeswoman said.
The French nuclear technology company, Cogema, said it regretted the "dramatic accident." A company spokesman in Paris said Cogema Logistics staff charged with overseeing the transport couldn't explain how the accident had happened.
The train loaded with highly radioactive nuclear waste had been stopped earlier on Sunday for two hours because of two demonstrators who had chained themselves to the tracks.
The Castor transport was originally scheduled to arrive in Dannenberg, eastern Germany, on Sunday afternoon. From Dannenberg, the containers are loaded onto trucks to be transported to the storage facility in nearby Gorleben.
Dannenberg residents shocked
The citizens' initiative in the Dannenberg region, which helps to plan protest action, said it was "shocked and disturbed" by news of the deadly accident. Organizers said they would discuss what consequences the news had for further planned protest action.
Thousands of demonstrators have been gathering in Dannenberg since Saturday. In past years, the Castor transports saw violent clashes between anti-nuclear activists and police.
The environmental group Greenpeace has warned that the Gorleben storage site is unsafe over the long term and risks contaminating ground water.