German anti-nuclear activists to cripple railway line




German anti-nuclear activists will try to sabotage a railway line to stop nuclear waste being transported from the Normandy coast of France to a village of 600 people between Hamburg and Hannover in central-north Germany. A consignment of about a dozen caskets for the transportation and storage of nuclear waste, CASTOR for short, is expected in Gorleben between 5 and 7 November, although the schedule is officially secret. Tens of thousands of demonstrators from all over Germany are again expected in the forest and farmland area to which tens of thousands of police are sent to ensure the consignment reaches a prefabricated hall outside the village.


The protesters are resigned to the fact that the consignments, which happen about every two years, ultimately always reach the destination, but they delay them as best they can to draw attention to the lack of a permanent repository for nuclear waste anywhere in the world.


Each transport costs about 50 million euros of taxpayers’ money to police. Opinion polls consistently find about two out of three Germans opposed to nuclear energy, produced by 17 power stations in the country.


This year the protesters intend to hit the last leg of the railway track from the town of Lüneburg (53° 15' 0" North, 10° 24' 0" East) to Dannenberg  (53° 6' 0" North, 11° 6' 0" East).


They plan to remove the crushed stone ballast from the trackbed on which the sleepers are laid, to make the track impassable for the very heavy waste train.


A call is travelling through the anti-nuclear movement to take part in what in German is being called “schottern”, a new verb creation from “Schotter”, the German noun for the railbed rocks.


Videos showing how it’s meant to happen are circulating on the Internet and getting thousands of hits. See two typical ones at  and .


The ballast is packed between, below, and around the sleepers to facilitate drainage of water, to distribute the load from the sleepers and to keep down vegetation that might interfere with the track structure. This also serves to hold the track in place as the trains roll by.


The local state attorney’s office has started almost 500 investigations into supporters of the "Castor schottern" campaign.


“Lay your ear on the rails of history,” says an activist site, “history is going  to be made in the Wendland (the name of the area) in November 2010. This time we’ll stop the CASTOR and put the power question out there!”


The authorities have closed down one protester Internet site in southern Germany, the posting says.


Chief prosecutor Roland Kazimierski is quoted as saying the investigations are also meant as a “deterrent”.


Various groups have stated that “schottern” does not rate as a criminal offence but is a legitimate means of political altercation.


They point out that police and judiciary have tried for years to criminalise legitimate resistance.


“If elections, demonstrations, requests and begging change nothing, people have to make the changes themselves. Then abandoning nuclear power is literally a hands-on task.”


Some more relevant sites: Aerial video of the dumping area. Images start with the "temporary" storage hall, where spent fuel is to cool down from the 400 degrees Centigrade on delivery to 200 degrees over 20 to 30 years. As the camera pans left, the pithead tower on top of the salt cavern comes into view. 1.5 billion euros have been spent to ready the pit for final storage of waste. "Exploration" of it was stopped for ten years over safety concerns but has just been resumed by order of the conservative-led government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Activists removing ballast from the railbed.  Ironic “Come to Castor Country” clip.  Young people in camp preparing for “Biggest Gorleben demo ever?”   Hundreds of young people’s alarm clocks ring simultaneously as a huge banner unfurls down the facade of a city building.  Three mobilisation clips by the Gorleben resistance group. Still photographs of demos.  Animation of how nuclear waste is produced.  Scenic country around the nuclear dumps.  Gorleben activists discussing actions.  English trailer of a 43-minute film of a past Gorleben demonstration, quoting activists on why they keep protesting, which they have been doing for more than 30 years.  Three witty mobilisation clips: Get to Gorleben any way you can; call to demo wakes even the dead; hip Mum goes too.  Berlin mobilisation jingle. Traditionally, a lot of supporters come from Berlin, about 300 kms away.  On 2 October activists blockaded 10 roads leading into the Gorleben area.  ditto  ditto  References to films of past demos, including a trek by hundreds of tractors to Berlin last year. Text about removing the railbed stones.  Facebook traffic about removing railbed stones. Twitter traffic about removing railbed stones.  People removing stones from the railbed.

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