Germany: Transport to Gorleben stopped

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1994) On Monday, 21 November a court in Lüneburg stopped the planned transport of radioactive waste in a castor container to the interim storage site in Gorleben (see WISE-NC 422.4181). They forbid the transport to and the storage in the interim storage facility.

(423.4187) WISE Amsterdam - The judges say there were too many faults and improvisations during pack-ing spent fuel rods into the castor in the NPP Phillipsburg in July. Due to the judges it is not clear who would be responsible to approve the deviation from the regulations of the loading process. In the courts opinion the authorities should have refused the approval when there are so many safety faults. The Lower Saxony environmental Minister Monika Griefahn only agreed to the transport because the former Federal environmental Minister Töpfer instructed her to agree. Griefahn would not agree by herself. Therefore the court doubts if it is correct that the Federal environmental Minister can instruct a lower environmental ministry to approve something against their own conviction, which is based on those safety problems.

The court stopped the transport because there is a legal action from the year 1983 against the license of the interim storage site. This case is still not decided on and the judges claim that it is not allowed to store waste in the interim storage site before there is a decision on the legal case. The new Federal environmental Minister Angela Merkel (successor after the Federal elections of Klaus Töpfer) already submitted contradiction to the court, but nobody knows when the court will decide about it. And it is questionable if the court will decide on it at all, because the Federal environmental ministry will put in front a new, extended license for the interim storage site in the first quarter of 1995. In this case there is no need any more to decide about the old approval. The packed castor in Phillipsburg will be unpacked again or it will be send perhaps to a reprocessing unit in France or England.

In any case the local anti nuclear movement, the Bürgerinitiative Lüchow-Dannenberg and all the anti-nuclear activists can be satisfied at the moment. It is also their merit that the castor transport again did not come. In the area around the storage site the right to demonstrate was abolished on 18 November. All actions were for-bidden until the transport should has reached the storage site. It was not allowed to assemble in the public with more than two people (this would be a demonstration). Nevertheless, on Saturday, 19 November, there was a huge demonstration. Over 2.000 people went for a walk on the railroad where (perhaps) the castor will come one day to Gorleben. They build blockades on the rails and on streets nearby, where over 60 tractors with trailers accompanied the demonstrators.

The demonstrators were present the whole weekend up to Monday, when the judgement was pronounced. Afterwards that decision there were a lot of happy people in Gorleben. The strategy of pushing up the political and financial price of the transport has so far paid off.

Meanwhile the Lower Saxony prime Minister Gerhard Schröder announced that he will continue the energy consensus discussions which he started last autumn. But this time he will discuss the future energy topics only with energy production companies and environmentalists and not with the Federal government after they tried to force the castor-transport. In Schröders opinion there first must be a consensus about future use of nuclear energy and about the handling of radioactive waste before a interim storage site can be put in operation. Within the consensus discussion there will be also negotiations about the closure of all nuclear facilities.

Source: Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 21 and 23 November 1994
Contact: Bürgerinitiative Lüchow-Dannenberg, Drawehner Str. 3, 29439 Lüchow, Germany,
Tel + 49-5841-4684, Fax +49-5841-3197 (Mon, Wed, Fri 9.00 - 12.00, Tue, Thu 15.00-18.30)