People demonstrating against the CASTOR nuclear transport show off their colours. Up to 50,000 people took part in the protests this year - the largest in the history of the CASTOR transport. Image: Jan Beránek.
The CASTOR nuclear waste has now reached its final destination at an interim storage facility in Gorleben, Germany, after the longest journey ever in the history of this radioactive transport. Over a period of approximately 92 hours and 26 minutes the nuclear transport faced more resistance and peaceful direct action from the local population and their supporters than ever before. The demand is clear: Germany has to confirm its commitment to a nuclear phase-out now.
Greenpeace Germany parks a fake beer truck in the path of the nuclear CASTOR transport. Image: Daniel Mueller / Greenpeace
Last night the nuclear waste transport found its way barred by a beer truck blocking the road leading to Gorleben. The truck was actually a Greenpeace Germany vehicle which successfully held up the transport for another 12 hours as police worked to remove several anti-nuclear activists locked to the truck and then finally remove the ‘beer truck’ itself.
Greenpeace Germany took peaceful direct action alongside thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators. These combined efforts blocked the radioactive transport at every opportunity. The delays and police efforts in clearing the blockades illustrate clearly to the German government and the nuclear industry that their actions to prolong nuclear energy in Germany are taken undemocratically – without the consent of the German people. In fact, the decision reached in 2001 to phase out nuclear by the end of 2023 was a compromise and it received a wide consensus in German society. The current government has blown this consensus for the sake of extra profits for large utilities and the nuclear industry - and it is now facing the outcome of its short-sighted policy decision.
Even the German police were critical, a statement issued by the head of the German police union said that the aftermath of failed political decisions - like the lifetime extension of nuclear reactors in Germany - are often ‘carried on the backs of police officers’. In the same Rheinische Post article it was mentioned that some of the police officers who have spent the last 92 hours removing the blockades share the concerns of the anti-CASTOR protestors themselves.
No doubt the police were exhausted after a long weekend of – not only removing activists from the railway tracks and 600 tractors from the roadways – but also a herd of at least 500 sheep. The sheep were herded onto the tracks by a local sheppardess in support of the protests, and finally some of them had to be carried off one-by-one by police to completely clear the railway tracks.
Chancellor Merkel cannot ignore the wishes of the majority of German citizens who recognize nuclear energy as a dead end and a threat to the booming German renewable energy industry that provides hundreds of thousands clean, smart jobs. In fact, the renewable energy sector already employs more than 10 times the number of people employed by the obsolete nuclear energy industry.
The world looks towards Germany to lead on renewable energy – and the German people have made their choice clear. Now it is up to their government to reflect that choice and re-instate the nuclear phase out. Other actors involved, or considering involvement, in the nuclear industry cannot ignore the unprecedented 92 hours of protest the CASTOR nuclear transport has sparked and the worldwide attention it has received.
This includes those who make dangerous nuclear projects possible by providing the massive financial support that is required. French-based banking group BNP Paribas is the worlds’ largest investor in nuclear energy projects – and has plans to fund an out-of-date nuclear reactor in Angra, Brazil. This reactor meets no international safety standards and would never be built in Europe itself. Following in the footsteps of the inspiring anti-CASTOR movement this weekend – you can send BNP Paribas the same message: nuclear is a dead end. Ask them to stop funding nuclear projects.
The protests against the CASTOR nuclear waste transport in images: