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N-Waste Meets Protest In Germany, Japan

Police fired water cannons Tuesday and dragged away hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters trying to prevent a shipment of radioactive waste from reaching a storage site in northern Germany.

The reinforced truck carrying a 126-ton container of spent fuel rods inched its way to a storage facility in Gorleben surrounded by helmeted officers carrying shields. The 12-mile journey took five hours.

The journey began Monday evening when the material left the nuclear plant at Philippsburg, near Karlsruhe in southern Germany. It was transported by train through four German states, arriving nearly 14 hours later in Dannenberg.

Outside the Dannenberg station, more than 200 protesters tried to block the train tracks with burning tires, hay, and logs. Police used water cannons to disperse stone-throwers.

Another protest over nuclear waste erupted today as Japan’s first high-level nuclear waste shipment was allowed into port.

About 50 people spent the night in tents outside Rokkasho’s fenced-off port and braved a morning rain to demonstrate against the arrival of the Pacific Pintail and its 14-ton load of Japanese nuclear waste reprocessed in France.

About 500 protesters were briefly cheered Tuesday when Gov. Morio Kimura of Aomori prefecture turned the ship carrying the first 28 casks of radioactive waste away.

But the cargo ship was allowed to return after the government promised that the temporary waste storage site - Japan’s first - would not become a permanent dump without the governor’s approval.

The two situations are strikingly similar. Both the German and the Japanese facilities have been designated as temporary - but since neither country has any permanent storage facilities, the radioactive waste is likely to stay at both sites indefinitely.

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