< Year back  |  Year forward >
Demonstration against nuclear waste convoys

Demonstration against nuclear waste convoys
Source: dpa

Click to enlarge



Nuclear power? No thanks!

bulletNuclear power means nuclear waste - a "radiant" future for thousands of years. Ten-thousand protesters make their way on 20 March 1998 to Ahaus to stop the arrival of consignments on "Day X".

Rail and then road convoys have already carried a total of 57 sealed containers known as "castors" (= CAsks for Storage and Transport Of Radioactive material) to the storage facility at Ahaus, a country town in NRW situated west of Münster near the Dutch border.

The anti-nuclear protestors are determined to stop further shipments through direct action. Activists and local people organise sit-down protests along the transport route.

No final storage site has been identified for burying this terrible bullettoxic legacy of nuclear energy. The Federal Government has opted for intermediate storage facilities to be established in various states (Länder), giving preference to Germany's marginal regions, which are economically underdeveloped and sparsely populated - like Gorleben, located in what used to be the zone along the East German border, and Ahaus itself.

The town received a structural aid grant worth DM 160 million in the 1970s to compensate for the presence of a nuclear waste dump. Not all the Länder maintain such intermediate storage sites, so some must accept waste from power plants in other Länder.

The shipments to Ahaus consist of Bavaria's and Baden-Württemberg's fuel elements. The SPD is split over the issue. NRW's bulletWolfgang Clement, for example, calls the transport a provocation, but other leading Social Democrats recall the role of the SPD in the 1970s as the party of technological progress and champion of nuclear energy.

The debate heats up further when Katrin Grüber, the Greens' president of the state assembly (Landtagspräsidentin) openly supports civil disobedience in the form of rail blockades. Should official representatives of the state be allowed to encourage people to break the law? How far should office-holders be allowed to follow their conscience?

Other figures in the public eye have less of a problem with direct action - like the punk band bullet"Die Toten Hosen". In the end, all this resistance is in vain. The containers get through!

Dirk Bitzer

Bookmark article