Mar 25

Im Atommülllager Asse lagert auch Arsen

Abyss of Uncertainty: Germany’s Homemade Nuclear Waste Disaster (Der Spiegel, Feb 21, 2013):

Part 1: Germany’s Homemade Nuclear Waste Disaster

Some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the Asse II salt mine over the last 50 years. German politicians are pushing for a law promising their removal. But the safety, technical and financial hurdles are enormous, and experts warn that removal is more dangerous than leaving them put.

It’s hot and sticky 750 meters (2,500 feet) underground, and the air smells salty. Five men are standing in front of an oversized drill. They have donned orange overalls and are wearing bulky special shoes, yellow hard hats and safety glasses. They turn on the machine, and the rod assembly slowly eats its way into a gray wall.

For over seven months now, the team has been trying to drill a hole with a diameter of eight centimeters (three inches). They are attempting to reach one of the former excavation chambers of Asse II, an old salt and potash mine near the northern German town of Remlingen, in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony. Behind a barrier 20 meters thick, thousands of drums filled with nuclear waste have been rotting away for over three decades.

It’s dangerous work. Over the years, experts warn, explosive gases may have collected in underground cavities — and one spark could trigger a disaster. Consequently, the drill head is only allowed to turn extremely slowly. After the machine has barely advanced another 10 centimeters, the men pull the drill pipe out of the hole and insert a probe. They thus manage to inch their way forward about 20 centimeters per shift.

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Nov 11

Like the Roman legions vanquished in the Teutoburger Wald in Lower Saxony in 9 AD, the 17,000 police officers that marched into the woods around the nuclear storage facility in Gorleben in northern Germany on Sunday morning looked invincible. Police personnel from France, Croatia and Poland had joined in the biggest security operation ever mounted against protestors against the a train carrying nuclear waste to an depot in an isolated part of  Lower Saxony’s countryside.

Helicopters, water canons and police vehicles, including an armoured surveillance truck, accompanied an endless column of anti-riot police mounted on horses and also marching down the railway tracks into the dense woods. Tens of thousands of anti riot police clattered along the tracks, their helmets and visors gleaming in the morning sun, and wearing body armour, leg guards and carrying batons.

But by Sunday night, those same police officers were begging the protestors for a respite.

Trapped in black, icy  woods without supplies or reinforcements able to reach them because of blockades by a mobile fleet of farmer’s tractors, the exhausted and hungry police officers requested negotiations with the protestors. A water cannon truck was blocked by tractors, and yet the police still had to clear 5000 people lying on the railway track at Harlingen in pitch darkness. The largest ever police operation had descended into chaos and confusion in the autumn woods of Lower Saxony, defeated by the courage and determination of peaceful protestors who marched for miles through woods to find places to lie down on the tracks and to scoop out gravel to delay the progress of the “the train from hell.”

The police union head Reiner Wendt gave vent to the general frustration when he issued a press statement via the dpa news agency last night saying the police had reached exhaustion point and needed a break. Behind the scenes, a battle seemed to be raging between the police chiefs tucked up in their warm headquarters and urging more action and the exhausted officers on the ground.

The police on the ground won out. The Castor train – called a „Chernobyl on wheels“ because it has been carrying 133 tonnes of highly radioactive waste to an unsafe depot – was stopped in the middle of the countryside and Nato barbed wire was placed around it. Lit by floodlights and guarded by a handful of police, the most dangerous train on the planet was forced to a halt after a 63 hour journey across France and Germany.

The defeat of the legions at Teutoburg marked the end of the attempt by the Roman empire to conquer Germania magna. And the failure of the biggest ever police operation two thousand years later in the woods of Lower Saxony to tame women, elderly people and school children protesting the government’s nuclear policy, could well also go down as a turning point.

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Nov 11

The German police union Dpolg has called for all football league games to be cancelled in Germany this weekend to give the police involved in an operation to quell protests against the transport of nuclear waste to a depot in Gorleben this weekend a chance to rest up.

The demand by the police union to cancel football matches this weekend underlines the way the Castor demonstrators managed to bring the German police state to its knees. Schoolchildren, women, the elderly, teachers, lawyers, farmers and pastors joined in the unprecedented non-violent demonstrations in the woods of Wendland at the weekend.

„Football is a lower priority than a demonstration because the German league is not a basic right. And basic rights come first. The football matches have to be cancelled,“ said Rainer Wendt, according to the Handelsblatt.

http://www.handelsblatt.com/sport/fussball/fussball-bundesliga-wendt-der-fussball-muss-abgesagt-werden;2690231

Police officers assigned to the 20,000-strong force protecting the Castor transport had to do shifts of 20,30 and even 40 hours and often without a break, sleep and food, Wendt said. In addition, they had to spend all their time outside in freezing temperatures.

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