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Police remove protesters from proposed nuclear landfill site

media This handout photo released by the French Gendarmerie Nationale shows an operation by French gendarmes to evacuate opponents of a nuclear waste burial site in the Lejuc woods in Bure early on February 22, 2018. Handout / GENDARMERIE NATIONALE / AFP

A huge police operation took place Thursday in eastern France to evacuate protesters from a site that has been earmarked by the government as a landfill for nuclear waste.

Some 500 gendarmes were mobilized for the evacuation of the site of 221 hectares in the forest of Lejuc, not far from Bure, in the Meuse, in the east of France, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement. According to the statement the operation went well.

The occupation took place at the site where ventilation chimneys are to be installed, and which has become the epicenter of the fight against the project.

About fifteen opponents were present. One person was arrested and placed in custody for attempting to throw incendiary devices at police.

A bulldozer was used to clear the barricades and bivouacs of the protesters, according to reports from French news agency AFP.

On Friday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had shown his determination not to let "Zadists" (environemntal activists) embed themselves in the area in much the same way protesters dug in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, in western France, where opponents of a project to build an airport occupied the site for years.

The Cigéo project aims to bury the most radioactive or long-lived nuclear waste in France 500 meters underground. Exploratory drilling is planned for the Lejuc forest, but so far this has been impossible because of protests.

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