New rows delay German nuclear shipments

Legal challenge at home, disagreement with France, hold up spent fuel transports

International shipments of spent nuclear fuel from Germany to La Hague reprocessing plant in France have been prevented from restarting this week by last minute rows at home and abroad. The German radiation authority, BfS, recently gave the go-ahead for a total of eight international shipments of nuclear waste from the Stade, Biblis and Philippsburg power stations (ENDS Daily 25 September). This followed a two-year break in shipments following discovery of radioactive contamination on the surface of rail containers.

Now, residents neighbouring the railway along which the fuel was due to be transported are contesting the BfS decision with support from environmental group Greenpeace. A spokesperson for the BfS told ENDS Daily that the objection had a " legally postponing effect" until investigated and judged.

Last week, German environment minister Jürgen Trittin sought to quell national protests against the planned transports when he met police unions, reassuring them that the government had done everything possible to ensure that international radiation standards would be adhered to. He called on both police and protestors be civil and non-violent.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the transports face a tougher political challenge in the form of a French environment ministry decision not to accept any more German waste until reprocessed fuel already stored at La Hague has been taken back by Germany. The German environment ministry says there are no facilities to receive the material. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French prime minister Lionel Jospin have now taken personal charge of the disagreement.

Follow Up:
German environment ministry (http://{www}.{bmu}.de), tel: +49 30 28 55 00 and {press release}. {BfS} tel: +49 53 41 88 51 00.

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