On Tuesday ten Greenpeace activists in the Netherlands chained themselves to railway lines to block a shipment of nuclear waste. The train, carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste from the country’s Borssele nuclear power plant, is currently en route to France.

© Bas Beentjes / Greenpeace

The highly radioactive waste in the three railcars contain a similar quantity of radioactive material to that released from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima. The next two years will see ten such shipments to France.

The containers go by train from Belgium to the French nuclear plant at La Hague. There the waste is reprocessed. It’s a risky and polluting process in which radioactive waste is released into the environment.

Unbelievably, only 4% of the waste is converted into new nuclear fuel. The rest of it is returned to the Netherlands and remains dangerous for 240,000 years. However, the country does not have storage facilities to keep the waste safe for that incredible length of time. No-one does.

© Bas Beentjes / Greenpeace 

While the likes of Germany and Switzerland are abandoning nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the Netherlands is swimming against the nuclear tide. The government still intends to build a new nuclear power plant, five times bigger than Borssele. The Netherlands doesn’t even need the electricity. It has sufficient generating capacity and so the electricity generated by the new plant will have to be exported abroad.

This unneeded second nuclear power plant requires significant investment and will produce more hazardous waste that can’t be stored safely." Instead of gambling on nuclear power the Netherlands should be making the safe bet on clean energy technologies like wind and solar.

You can follow the progress of the nuclear shipment on the map here. More details and a petition in Dutch can be found here.