[Imc-france-lille] Nuclear death train too fast? + A personal account of the other, non-fatal French chaining action.
dietsimon at t-online.de
Mer 10 Nov 05:22:25 PST 2004
Nuclear death train too fast?
By Diet Simon
The state attorney in Nancy is investigating whether the nuclear waste train that killed an activist chained to the track was going too fast.
It's ordered the locomotive's "black box", the recorder of its operation, to be studied. Earlier state attorney Michel Senthille in the eastern French town had stated that the train was running at 98 kilometres an hour round a curve.
The train weighed 2,200 tonnes and was 398 metres long. At that speed, it would have needed 800 metres to stop. Sébastien Briat, a 21-year-old student, was run over shortly after the train took a curve, with the driver able to see only 200 metres ahead. Three others with him were injured.
The driver had been warned by police motorcyclists riding ahead on a dirt road but could not stop in time.
The train was taking 12 Castor caskets of highly radioactive German nuclear waste from power stations back to Germany after reprocessing at a French plutonium factory at La Hague in Normandy, northern France.
The reprocessing company, Cogema, said these were the remnants of 600 tonnes of uranium from which power was produced for 25 million Germans for a year.
After a journey of 60 hours by rail and truck, stopped several times by protesters on the rails and roads, the consignment arrived in a storage hall near the picturesque north German village of Gorleben at 9.15 am Tuesday morning.
The rail journey was 1,000 kilometres through Germany, with activists along the way reporting that it was going much too fast.
The trucks needed more that two hours for the last 20 kilometres by rural roads from the railhead to the storage compound. Police had to clear thousands of sitting demonstrators and dozens of tractors from village roads, sometimes using batons.
For the transport near Gorleben alone, 10,100 police were assigned, 2,400 fewer than for the same kind of transport last year; throughout Germany it was 15,710. 39 helicopters were used.
This was the eighth transport to Gorleben since the storage hall opened for business in 1995. It now contains 56 Castors. Its total capacity is 420.
Authorities put the total cost of the police operation at around 21 million euros (25.7 million last year) in Lower Saxony state alone - utter insanity when governments are cash-strapped and all kinds of services to the public are having to be cut back.
The commander of the police operation, Friedrich Niehörster, said there were more protests than last year. Apparently under the impression of Briat's death there had been "a large number of peaceful demonstrators and only small groups ready for violence". The Lower Saxony government described the protests as "very peaceful". Twelve policemen were reported injured.
The Gorleben activists say they're rethinking their forms of action because of the death. They say a fundamental principle in resisting the Castor transports had always been that no one should get hurt. (Last year the activists' own medics reported that police had "brutally" and indiscriminately injured 85 protesters, some of them seriously.)
Sébastien Briat is being buried today, Wednesday 10 November, in Bar-le-Duc, Lorraine. Mourners are meeting at 2.30 pm in front of Bar-le-Duc station to proceed to the burial service taking place at 3 p.m.
Briat's family has asked for a simple service and that n o signs of allegiance to any political organisation. Condolences to the family can be sent to Réseau "Sortir du nucléaire", 9 rue Dumenge, F-69317 Lyon Cedex 04, fax 0033-4 72 07 70 04, email rezo at club-internet.fr for forwarding.
The French anti-nuclear network, "Sortir du Nucléaire", has called for vigils at all French railway stations on Wednesday.
There will also be vigils and demonstrations at various German locations. Police were pretty rough with some of those that happened spontaneously as soon as news of Briat's death arrived. A flier with a picture of Sébastien is available at http://media.de.indymedia.org/media/2004/11/98267.pdf.
Meanwhile in Düsseldorf, Germany, police experts from various federal states on Wednesday are discussing planned Castor transports from Dresden in east Germany to a storage hall at Ahaus, similar to the one in Gorleben.
Also at the talks are representatives of the transport company and the shut-down research reactor at Rossendorf whose 951 spent fuel roads in 18 Castors are to be trucked more than 600 kms across Germany.
Saxony state, where the reactor is situated, is pressing for the transports to take place still this year, North-Rhine Westphalia, where Ahaus is, is resisting, saying in the winter weather now beginning it would be irresponsible to subject police personnel to the extra dangers. The transport licence runs out at the end of the year.
"There won't be a Castor transport [to Ahaus] this year," said NRW interior minister, Fritz Behrens.
Several anti-nuclear groups in the heavily nuclearised region where Ahaus lies have expressed disappointment at the plans going ahead. No one can understand, they say, why transports have to be carried out regardless although they create new dangers and the disposal of waste remains just as unsure. They demanded that in view of Briat's death, the transport preparations be broken off immediately.
The trial of two people who chained themselves fast to stop a Castor train a year ago in Heilbronn county, will not take place on Wednesday as scheduled. Local activists say the proceedings have been cancelled. But another similar trial is taking place tomorrow.
The other Castor blockade in France
Personal account by Cécile
Much was said about the fatal accident in France. Photos were published, including on Indymedia, confusion was caused. The press did its job badly!!
There were two chaining-on actions in France. The first near Laneuveville was SUCCESSFUL. The second failed and the train ran over Sébastien...I took part in the first action and would like to report here and write down a few personal thoughts.
In Laneuveville near Nancy I chained myself to the rails together with Camille. Twelve other people with a banner were with us on the rails. We sang good songs...Our action took place at 11:15 am.
The train stopped more than 300 metres from our blockade, no one was endangered. The police had to use heavy equipment to remove us. The CRS (special riot unit of the police) were not skilful! The train was stopped for more than two hours.
We were led off in handcuffs like serious criminals and the death train drove on at 1:25 pm.
It was one of the most successful blockades in France yet, I think it was the second.....great mood....the two "chainees" were put in detention and released again in the evening. The other activists had their data taken down and released. Two had been questioned.
By this action the activists wanted to alert the population to the dangers of atomic power and atomic waste transports.
For about a year it's has been even more difficult to inform about atomic power because a lot of information is classified as state secrets.
We also wanted to show the atom lobby that we are able to defend ourselves, despite the weakness of the anti-atomic movement in France (compared to Germany, where thousands demonstrate...).
Pictures and film of the action will follow.
BUT our joy didn't last long ... The accident happened about an hour later.
I received the sad news from Avricourt when I was still in police detention.
A smiling policeman came to me and said, "I've got bad news for you, the train has just run over a person".
I was and am still shocked and enraged. It was all the more difficult being in a cell on my own, unable to talk to people. .... The people had tried to stop the train, just like us. For reasons unknown to me the train didn't stop.
I suspect the train was too fast and the helicopter wasn't there.
Our action group does NOT know the other, but we are all shocked and express our solidarity. The group was just as experienced as ours (although unfortunately the press has reported the contrary).
I was not there and want to say no more about the accident. I don't want to judge.
I'm thinking about Sébastien today ... the burial will be today and this evening mourning demonstrations will take place in France, at railway stations in many towns. ...
Many thanks, too, for the solidarity from Germany. We need that! We don't want heroes or martyrs .... We get in the way because ATOMIC POWER kills. The atom-state is to blame!!!
Press needs sensation .... the confusion
The press reported appallingly on the events: pictures of our action with reports about the fatality. This caused confusion....but the press wants pictures, it needs sensation....Only the newspaper "Est Républicain" reported the events fairly well.
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
We are all in shock and need time to think. But we will keep getting in the way.
Atomic power kills daily. Usually it's a slow death: leukaemia in children round the La Hague processing plant, irradiated workers in "normal" operations of power stations, exploitation and illnesses in Africa and wherever else uranium is mined...
We must organise our defence. We two "chainees" are accused of interference with rail traffic. The state attorney is investigating and will announce in the few days whether we're to be charged, which is likely.
We will conduct political trials. The judiciary are also investigating whether the two informal groups know each other.
We need direct action!!! Chaining actions will continue. At least I hope so. Especially in France, where usually there is no discussion of atomic power.
New atomic power stations are even being built (EPR reactor). No one takes any notice of "classic" demonstrations. Direct actions and imagination remain a strength....
To be honest, I still need a lot of time to think... I'm thinking about Sébastien... But the resistance must go on, no matter what!!! "Because atomic waste only brings us death we'll get in the way, we want to live, live, live, we want to live..."
Below is an article from the newspaper Est Républicain, for those who understand French.
" C'est le nucléaire qui l'a tué "
NANCY. - Elle était, dimanche, l'un des deux manifestants qui se sont arrimés aux rails à Laneuveville-devant-Nancy, bloquant le convoi de déchets pendant deux heures. Placée en garde à vue, Cécile, 22 ans, a été libérée dans la soirée, après avoir appris le drame d'Avricourt de la bouche d'un
policier. " J'étais secouée. Et c'était d'autant plus difficile que je n'avais pas de contact avec l'extérieur ".
Non, Cécile ne connaissait pas le jeune Meusien qui a perdu la vie. Mais pour elle " c'est le nucléaire qui l'a tué ". Elle estime d'ailleurs que cet accident n'aurait pas dû arriver, que la sécurité n'était pas assurée.
L'hélicoptère de surveillance était absent. Il aurait dû refaire le plein pendant que nous nous bloquions le convoi à Laneuveville ".
Elle marque un instant de silence. Ajoute aussitôt : " Mes pensées vont d'abord vers la personne qui est morte. Mais il y a aussi de la colère. Parce qu'il faut des drames pour que l'on pose la question du nucléaire ".
Alors oui, malgré cette tragédie, elle est prête à retourner sur le ballast s'il le faut pour stopper un autre train. " Parce que c'est un des seuls moyens pour se faire entendre, parce que le nucléaire fait des morts ".
Mais elle insiste sur le fait qu'il faut prendre énormément de précautions. Comme son petit groupe l'avait fait à la sortie de Nancy, en signalant sa présence, en réalisant des signaux lumineux, en attendant l'arrêt du train pour s'attacher au rail.
Hier soir, Cécile devait, bougie à la main, participer à la manifestation prévue en mémoire de Sébastien Briat. Et de répéter : " On pense d'abord à lui ".
(Translated by Diet Simon)
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