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A TRAIN carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste reached a German dump today at the end of a 600-kilometre odyssey from northern France clouded by the death of an environmentalist.
Police said thousands of protesters along the route forced the convoy carrying 12 containers of spent fuel rods to make several stops before arriving at the Gorleben storage facility in northern Germany today.
The shipment left the waste re-treatment plant at La Hague in northern France late Saturday but was halted Sunday afternoon after a young demonstrator who chained himself to the railway was run over and killed.
The train resumed the trek late Sunday and arrived yesterday in the town of Dannenberg, the hotbed of the anti-nuclear protests, before being loaded onto 12 trucks for the last 20-kilometre stretch of the journey to Gorleben.
An alliance of local farmers, veteran environmentalists and young radical demonstrators staged several sit-ins on the tracks and later formed a blockade on the road until they were cleared by police early today.
Protesters also held a number of spontaneous vigils for the dead activist, with tractors used to block the route festooned with black crepe bows in his memory.
"We are taking it easy," a police spokesman said today as the demonstrations once again led to a delay in the shipment.
"Safety is the absolute priority."
An estimated 11,000 German officers were deployed to guard the consignment, which was the seventh to be returned to Germany since 1996.
Germany, which has no treatment facilities of its own, sends spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants for reprocessing in France or Britain before they are returned for storage.
Germany has agreed to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2020.
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