A train carrying nuclear waste has finally reached its destination in Gorleben, Germany, where the radioactive material is to be stored. But it was a long, eventful trip.
The convoy of 11 nuclear waste containers arrived in Gorleben
Thousands of protesters held up a truck convoy carrying nuclear waste in Germany Monday, repeatedly invading a 20-kilometer (12-mile) road leading to a secure storage warehouse.
Police said the protests, the biggest since 2001 during the waste transport operations, which take place every few months, were also more violent than usual.
Protesters had tried to undermine a railway, seize a truck and shot signalling flares at a police helicopter.
Federal police commander Thomas Osterroth said, "A few of them are willing to be very violent."
Many protestors were peaceful, but police said some were prepared for violence
The 10,000 police at the scene were ordered to clear the road before the trucks departed from a railway freight yard carrying the 11 containers. They were bound for the storage site at Gorleben where tons of similar waste are already guarded round the clock.
The big containers are a new type, code-named TN 85, with shells designed to withstand greater heat from the high-grade waste, the remains of uranium fuel rods used in German nuclear power stations.
Greenpeace claims containers are dangerous
The environmentalist group Greenpeace charged that neutron radiation from the containers was 40 percent greater. State regulators rejected this, saying their tests showed the radiation remained within the legally safe limit.
About 1,000 protesters who blocked the entrance to the warehouse were carried away one by one by riot police.
Police said they faced a major challenge removing eight demonstrators who had chained themselves to concrete blocks near the site.
On Saturday it took 12 hours to drill out concrete and remove three protesters who chained themselves to a railtrack on the French border before the waste passed on a train.
The train carried the waste from a reprocessing plant La Hague, France to a railhead in the town of Dannenberg, close to Gorleben.
Nuclear energy debate in Germany
About 15,000 protesters defied a storm to camp out near Gorleben. They said the large turnout was prompted by debate in Germany about returning to nuclear power for the sake of reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.
The protesters, who reject nuclear power as unsafe, aim to draw attention to the issue by disrupting the convoys. Under legislation, Germany is to close all its nuclear power plants within the next 15 years.
The German government has said little about the protests. But Dieter Althaus, premier of Thuringia state, said Monday the protesters were breaching a national consensus to end nuclear power and store away the waste.