Another Franco-German nuclear waste transport this autumn

01. may 2008

(by Diet Simon)

German authorities have allowed another transport of highly active nuclear waste from France to the north German village of Gorleben this year.

It will be the first since 2006 and as usual is expected in autumn on dates not yet revealed.

Each transport by train and trucks usually costs about 30 million euros to police as thousands of demonstrators from all over Germany converge on Gorleben, roughly equidistant between Hamburg and Hanover.

About 20,000 police drawn from all over Germany are usually marshalled into the area to assure passage on the last 20 kilometres of the journey by heavy-duty, low-loader trucks from a railhead at Dannenberg to the prefabricated storage hall at Gorleben.

On past occasions both police and demonstrators have been injured in clashes. Police have been chastised many times by the country’s supreme court for illegal actions against protesters.

A new French type of casket claimed to withstand greater radiation heat will be used this year while development of a new German type has been held up.

This delay has caused French and German authorities to call off the transport planned for next year.

The local group resisting waste dumping in Gorleben demands from the licensing authority, the Federal Agency for Radiation Protection (MfS), total disclosure of permit documentation for the 11 socalled Castor caskets to roll this year.

“It cannot be allowed that the population is exposed to great dangers while security documentation is kept secret,” said a media spokesman for the Lüchow Dannenberg Citizens Environment Initiative (BI), Francis Althoff.

“After it’s become known that the books were cooked in regard to the safety of the newly developed German Castor HAW 28 M, now all the facts about the just permitted French model TN 85 need to be put on the table in a publicly understandable form.

"Specifically we want to know whether drop-crash or fire tests were made, or whether again only questionable mathematical models were the foundation for the permit,” Althoff wrote in a media release.

"The secrecy handicaps our rights to litigate. The transports have to be stopped immediately.”

The waste originated in German power station and was transported to La Hague in northern France for processing in a plutonium factory there. Germany is contractually obliged to take the unusable remnants back.

The last transports from La Hague to Gorleben, with 11 caskets each, are planned for 2010 and 2011.

The government of Lower Saxony state, where Gorleben is located, says the storage hall there now holds 80 Castor caskets and 33 more are due from France.

Local activists, who include scientists, claim that every Castor casket contains the equivalent of about two fifths of the radiation released by the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 or the Hiroshima bomb.

The opponents argue that every new shipment makes it more likely that a salt mine built at vast cost in Gorleben to explore its suitability will become the permanent repository for highly radioactive waste.

Waste in a similar nuclear dump, the ‘Asse’ trial salt mine near Wolfenbüttel, about 80 kilometres east of Hanover, is flooding and the radiation is threatening to contaminate the biosphere. The Gorleben pit was constructed using the same science as Asse.

As pressure grows to solve the waste issue and the European Union doubles spending to promote nuclear power, the Gorleben pit looks more and more likely to become Germany’s – if not Europe’s – final dump.

This although the pit has contact with ground water and aquifers which, if breached, would contaminate drinking water supplies in a radius of hundreds of kilometres.

Gorleben activists argue that there has been scientific proof since the early 80s that the Gorleben salt dome cannot prevent atomic waste from entering the biosphere because it lacks a sealing rock cover.

They demand that Gorleben be given up as a dump site and argue that the only way to solve the waste issue is to stop nuclear power production.

Bearbeitet am: 01.05.2008/ad

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