Les Nukes Est Arrivés

A train packed with 24 tons of German nuclear waste arrived in northern France on Wednesday, encountering only small protests a day after hundreds of activists were arrested for protesting the shipments in Germany.

The shipment to a reprocessing plant is the first of its kind in three years. Transport of nuclear waste from Germany to France was suspended in 1998 when radiation was found to be leaking from a container.

Some 150 riot police stood by as the train pulled into the station at Valognes, where the waste was to be inspected before being transported by truck to the plant in La Hague, about 25 miles away.

A dozen Greenpeace activists blocked the train in the northern city of Caen, and four protesters chained themselves to the tracks. Police quickly removed them.

Before dawn, as the train rumbled through the western Paris suburb of Yvelines, some 50 protesters blocked its path and caused an hour-long delay, LCI television reported.

The train, carrying five containers of radioactive waste, set out Tuesday from Woerth, in western Germany.

The small protests in France contrasted with those in Germany, where 2,000 police guarded one of the nuclear plants, at Philippsburg in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, and arrested hundreds of protesters.

Near the border crossing, several activists chained themselves to the rail, delaying the train by an hour.

Germany has traditionally sent spent nuclear fuel from its power plants to France for reprocessing under contracts that oblige it to take back the resultant waste.

Protesters say the shipments are unsafe and want Germany's nuclear plants shut down quickly. They aim to make the transports so expensive that the government and power companies will be forced to halt them.

The German government last year struck a deal to scrap the country's 19 nuclear plants, but the shutdown could still take over 20 years.

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