| Worries over German nuclear transports |
Diet Simon - 22.07.2004 15:58
Worries, protests at many German nuclear transports
Anti-nuclear activists in the west German Münsterland region bordering on Holland are joining forces to resist new plans for nuclear transports in the region. They say in a joint news release that for the past few days a consignment of depleted uranium for Russia has been assembled in the grounds of a uranium enrichment plant at Gronau.
“It appears that the [German/Dutch/British] operating company, Urenco, with the approval of the Social Democrat/Greens government of North-Rhine Westphalia, intends to despatch a new transport right across Europe to Russia before the summer closure of the Gronau-Münster railway line on 30 July,” says the release (posted in German at http://www.bi-ahaus.de/, Gronau: Neuer Urantransport nach Russland noch Ende Juli).
A previous consignment went through Rotterdam, Holland.
“During the last transport to Russia on 22 June There were many blockades and demonstrations between Gronau, Münster and Hengelo (Holland).
“We are furious that the state government is not responding to the public protests. The Gronau enrichment plant is of central importance to the European nuclear industry. It is incomprehensible that the state government is allowing nuclear waste transports right across Europe.
“Where is the promised abandonment of atomic energy, when in the Münsterland atomic installations are being continuously enlarged? The behaviour of the state government is simply split-tongued.
“We demand that the state government immediately stop plans for a drastic expansion of the Gronau plant and not to allow an interim storage for uranium oxide to be built at Gronau.
“We also call on the state government at long last to take a clear position against the further use of atomic power in North-Rhine Westphalia, and to shut down Gronau immediately because of its national importance for the future of the nuclear industry.”
The groups say protests against the planned uranium transport must be expected.
The Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz (BBU) has demanded from the state energy minister answers to the following questions:
· Why does the NRW state government reject waste transports from Dresden to Ahaus, but not uranium transports from and to Gronau?
· Who is responsible for licensing nuclear transports from/to Gronau?
· In which Russian enrichment plants has uranium from Gronau been enriched so far?
· How much uranium hexafluoride was taken from Gronau to Russia so far?
· How often have representatives of the NRW energy ministry been to the Russian enrichment plants?
· How does the NRW energy ministry respond to the past announcement by the Urenco firm that it would close down its Gronau plant if the licensing authority imposes protection against aircraft crashes?
Dresden waste to Ahaus in September/October?
The BI Ahaus says it has information that the state government has opened a new time window for nuclear waste transports from Dresden to Ahaus.
Although the state government has filed litigation against the transport licence, the period from 27 September to 15 October is said to be under consideration.
That window begins a day after local council elections have been held in the state and continues until schools start autumn vacation.
Those three weeks would be exactly the time needed for three truck convoys of six Castor containers each on the 600+ kilometre run, as sought by the state of Saxony.
“We have just seen with the motorway [nuclear waste] transport from Jülich [near Cologne] to [the German port of] Bremerhaven for shipment to the USA that the state government is not taking its own litigation against the Castor transports particularly seriously.
“We have information that a markedly rougher behaviour by the Ahaus police towards nuclear opponents indicates that the preparations for the Castor transports from Saxony are again being pursued more seriously.
“To thwart this plan we’re calling for a large Sunday Stroll in Ahaus on 19 September. Should the transport date be confirmed the hot transport phase to Ahaus may begin on the Sunday when local elections are held: 26 September.
“The joint mobilisation call by Münsterland and Saxon anti-nuclear initiatives provides for camps in Dresden and Ahaus as well as many nationwide actions along the 600-km autobahn route.”
Contacts: Felix Ruwe (BI Ahaus) Tel. 02561/6577, Udo Buchholz (AKU Gronau) Tel. 02562/23125, Matthias Eickhoff (WIGA Münster) Tel. 0251/972076. The release was made in the names of Bürgerinitiative „Kein Atommüll in Ahaus", Arbeitskreis Umwelt (AKU) Gronau, Widerstand gegen Atomanlagen (WIGA) Münster, Wettringer Initiative gegen Atomanlagen (WEGA) Münster, Menschen gegen Atomanlagen (MEGA) Waltrop, Aktionsbündnis Münsterland gegen Atomanlagen, Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz (BBU).
Arrests without reason
The activist groups report police roughing up a member who wanted to register a demonstration. And without any reason, two demonstrators were arrested late Sunday afternoon.
“I wanted to register a demonstration with the police,” said Matthias Eickhoff, spokesman of the group Widerstand gegen Atomanlagen (WIGA) of Münster, "whereupon three policemen threw me to the ground.”
In the police station one officer had also advised him to jump out of the window, preferably from the second storey to make sure he broke his neck, Eickhoff reports.
"If that was supposed to be joke, it was a pretty miserable failure. It appears that this sort of thing is supposed to prevent protests."
The behaviour appears to be method, say the groups. The Ahaus police had even decided internally no longer to accept registration of socalled spontaneous demonstrations – a scandal in the view of the groups. Legal action would be taken to assert rights.
"The Ahaus police can’t choose from whom it accepts demonstrations.” Now the state interior ministry had to intervene.
The ministry rejects any responsibility for the incident. A general evasion of the right to gather was “inconceivable”, said spokesman Ulrich Rungwerth.
The police also take a different view: The protest concerned of 90 people on an autobahn bridge had not been spontaneous because earlier all demonstrations near the autobahn had been forbidden. A police called the protest action “resistance against implementing officials”.
“The Ahaus police are following a new concept of zero tolerance,” the activists allege.
“We see it as a success that despite their far greater number, the police were not able to deflect us from our aim. The Ahaus police are hyper-nervous and are obviously being much tougher than allowed.
“We see this in connection with the new time window for the Dresden-Ahaus transports.”
The NRW environment minister, Bärbel Höhn (Greens), told a political rally that in coming years at least 72 more nuclear waste containers from research reactors will be transported to Ahaus. Those from Rossendorf near Dresden would be the first.
Höhn said she would work towards waste being kept at the reactor locations. But at least the states from which the waste came would have to carry a larger share of the transport costs (presumably policing).
Höhn said The Greens had wanted interim-storage at reactor sites as part of the nuclear abandonment deal between the federal government and power producers.
“But we couldn’t assert it. Now we can’t force Saxony to give up the transports.”
The only option left was to try to stop 18 trucking trips by litigation to achieve one single consignment by rail. The licensing of the trucking was illegal, Höhn said, because it unnecessarily imposed on NRW too high policing costs and burdens.
Faulty casket in storage
A week ago the container monitoring system in the Ahaus nuclear storage signalled the malfunction of one of the 305 Castor THTR caskets.
A spokesman for the company said there was no leak. The authorities had been informed.
The Castors have two lids. One is to keep them closed, the other contains a pressure switch to monitor whether that is so.
Little protest against transports out of the country
One consignment of waste from German research reactors has just left for America, two more are due.
Peter Nowak wrote in the leftwing daily TAZ that it’s quite possible they could move unchallenged because the anti-nuclear movement was taking its summer break.
The shipments are going to Savannah Rivers in den USA, an atomic weapons complex notorious among other things for its leaking radioactive tanks (www.enn.com/news/2004-07-13/s_25774.asp).
Such lively nuclear traffic should really mobilise the anti-nuclear movement, the paper quotes Hartwig Berger, spokesman the energy working group of The Greens, as saying.
While everything had been focused for months on the Dresden-Ahaus case, one looked in vain for calls to protest the trucking to Bremerhaven.
Berger argued in the article that the size of protest against transports within Germany was matched by the size of the ignorance about consignments as soon as they left the country.
"That is a political contradiction.” Berger includes his governing part friends in the criticism.
He demands parliamentary action to deal with the disposal of waste from research reactors.
Susanne Ochse of Greenpeace is quoted as saying that the USA has only agreed to take the waste because it contains a high proportion of bomb-grade isotopes and only until 2009.
A celebration in Bavaria
Fifteen years after plans for a waste recycling plant at Wackersdorf, 160 km north of Munich, in Bavaria were given up after massive protests, a three-day “Miracle of Wackersdorf” music festival was held at the site to celebrate on the first July weekend.
Organisers say international jazz and blues greats such as EB Davis, Antonello Marafioti, Leszek Zadlo and New Zealander Hattie St. John performed at the Murner Lake.
The anniversary of the official abandonment of the plant was on 31 May.
After years of mass protests and partly civil-war-like conditions at the planned site in the largely rural area, the power companies gave up their location concept for processing spent fuel.
One other site for the plant under consideration for recycling at the same time as Wackersdorf was Gorleben in north Germany, now the site of an “interim storage” for spent fuel that local activists deride as a “potato barn”, and an exploratory salt mine they fear will be declared a final storage, although work on it has been stopped because it was found unsuitable.
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