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Protests as nuclear-waste train hits Paris region

media La Hague nuclear-waste processing plant Wikimedia Commons

A train carrying 21 rods of used uranium and plutonium passed through the Paris outskirts on Wednesday, according to anti-nuclear campaigners who claim it is highly dangerous. The cargo of nuclear waste came from a nuclear power station at Borssele in the south-west Netherlands.

The train, carrying three casks, is the second in a series of 10 planned to pass through northern France, the last being scheduled to do so in 2013.

The wagons give off the equivalent of the annual acceptable dose of radioactivity, according to Laure Hameau of the anti-nuclear network, Sortir du nucléaire.

"This train is rolling through very crowded areas in the Parisian suburbs, on suburban rail lines," Sortir du nucléaire's Charlotte Mijeon told RFI. "People are completely unaware of it and it's important to say there is a risk, it's hidden, and for us it's a big scandal."

Protests against the train took place at the towns of Villeparisis and Aulnay-sous-Bois, with Aulnay’s mayor, Gérard Ségura, among demonstrators demanding to be notified if nuclear cargoes pass through the areas in the future.

A request to test the radiation levels from Sortir du nucléaire and the Sud-rail union while the train stopped at Le Bourget marshalling yard was turned down.

"These shipments are as secretive as possible," says Mijeon. "The people shipping them have no interest in the public knowing how dangerous it is. The same thing happened a year ago when there was a radioactive waste train from La Hague to Gorleben in Germany. The general director of the train company, SNCF, himself tried to forbid any measurements were made."

The train is expected to stop at Sallaumines near Rouen overnight before heading for the treatment centre run by French nuclear company Areva at La Hague on the Channel coast.

The transport of nuclear waste from Italy to La Hague was suspended after anti-nuclear protests.

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