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part of the human chain in Brokdorf, northern Germany
The chain of people stretched across several German statesImage: AP

Chain reaction

April 24, 2010

Opponents of nuclear power joined hands to form a 120-kilometer human chain across northern Germany. They were protesting Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to revoke a law that would shut down nuclear plants by 2020.


Tens of thousands of people attended demonstrations on Saturday aimed at protesting the German government's plans to extend the lives of its nuclear power plants.

Demonstrators formed a 120-kilometer (74-mile) human chain that stretched from a nuclear power plant in Brunsbuettel, through Hamburg along the Elbe River to another plant in Kruemmel.

Both reactors have been almost continuously out of service since a series of accidents in 2007.

Police in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein told the AFP news agency that there were "clearly more than 100,000 participants." Organizers estimated the total number at about 120,000.

a section of the chain forms in front of a nuclear power plant
Protesters want the government to shut down Germany's nuclear plantsImage: AP

"Today over 120,000 people have signaled to the government: You must change your pro-nuclear position," event spokesman Thorben Becker told the DPA news agency.

Demonstrations also took place at an atomic waste storage site in the town of Ahaus in North Rhine-Westphalia and at a nuclear plant in the state of Hessen.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that her center-right coalition wants to revoke a law passed under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's center-left coalition that promised to shut down all nuclear power plants in Germany by 2020.

Merkel's government has called nuclear energy a "bridge technology" that helps the country keep its commitments to lowering carbon dioxide emissions.

The protests come just days before Monday's 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Editor: Kyle James

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