Nuclear France: trip to the end of democracy

chiche! – translation Diet Simon 11.10.2004 00:49 Themen: Atom
Deutsche Quelle

The French nuclear corporation Areva is doing business with the American army. 140 kilogrammes of military plutonium from the USA arrived Thursday night in Cadarache (south France).
As Indymedia reported ( there were many protests throughout the country before this Castor casket transportation right across it began.

The trucking started early on Thursday 7 October from La Hague. Many activists protested loudly. But the transport could not be prevented or hindered because the state responded, as usual, with human rights violations and demonstration bans.



Fliers distributed in Toulouse on Saturday.

Toulouse: Nuclear power can be given up!

The many actions ahead of the transport caused excitement and aroused public interest in the issue. For example, the press reported the Greenpeace actions on the day the ship arrived.

The activists had closed off the road to La Hague by chaining themselves to a lorry right across the road.

Areva responded fast. On Wednesday afternoon Greenpeace had to front up in court.

It ruled that if anyone got closer to the ship than 300 metres and closer to the truck than 100 metres, the organisation had to expect a fine of 75,000 euros in either case.

That amounts to a demonstration ban because no organisation can pay such a penalty.

The transport took the southern route. Because it was a “defence secret” the route was kept secret until the end.

The Green chief mayor of Bègles had forbidden such transports coming through, but the hot cargo went through anyway.

In Toulouse six activists climbed onto the roof of the highway toll (péage) and unfurled a banner saying “stop plutonium”. All six were seized shortly thereafter and the Castor passed the place about an hour later.


The network for stopping nuclear technology (réseau sortir du nucléaire) had called for a colourful demonstration, to include a non-violent blockade.

But Areva and the judiciary struck again. If anyone got closer to the truck than 100 metres, the organisation must expect a fine of 50,000 euros.

The colourful demonstration by about 150 people on the Mirabeau Bridge was over at around 8 p.m. Some activists stayed put and waited for the Castor.

At about 10 p.m. about 50 of them gathered at the gate to the plant in Cadarache.

Hundreds of Gardes Mobiles (police, but part of the army) had the area under control. A helicopter kept circling all the time. The nearby highway was closed off for two hours.

The first time people were allowed to demonstrate was at the roundabout. The media partly reported the demo live.

At around 1 a.m. the activists had to leave the road and the area. They did not want to take any risks. A 50,000-euro fine would kill the organisation and the – lamentably – weak anti-nuclear movement.

That is what the state and the lobby are trying to achieve.

The people wanted to head to the left, where the road was a bit lit, but police forced them with threats of violence to head to the right into the dark.

The activists obeyed the order – with 40 to 50 people against hundreds of police there’s nothing else you can do.

One’s allowed to demonstrate as long as one’s not seen or heard and as long as no one causes a disturbance (especially not to the nuclear business of Areva).

Nuclear power means police society and totalitarianism.

The Castor reached its destination at 11 p.m. We could only watch from behind and shout a bit. There was rage on the faces.

The struggle goes on

This transport was one of many. Every week about two plutonium transports run through France. Atomic transports of all kinds are running through the country daily.

Not without risk. Last week a truck carrying enriched uranium from Lingen, Germany, was struck from the back by a truck carrying mobile phones near Orléans.

On 9 October anti-nuclear activists again demonstrated against nuclear transports in 26 towns. The press again reported.

The nuclear lobby remains strong, but the recent excitement has caused it to be sharply criticised. People have doubts.

The activists are now pondering how to get around demonstration bans in future. It is important to respond to the attacks by Areva so that civil disobedience and blockading of nuclear power can again be possible.

What are the juridical contexts for such a demo ban? Why is an organisation charged? Not all the demonstrators are members of the network. And if the demo is dispersed, why does the organisation still remain liable for what occurs?

Surely, every person is free and responsible for their actions.

The punishment is set in advance – that’s new! The constitutionality of that has to be tested.

Compared to Germany, the movement is very weak.

Small blockade actions of Castor transports happen occasionally (especially in the east) and are necessary.

But we also need large-scale actions (of civil disobedience) that any person can take in. Somewhat similar to the Wendland!

The fight against genetically manipulated food was a bit more successful, we could perhaps learn from it. At the start the farmers association had to pay high fines because of “voluntary mowing”.

A year ago they changed the strategy. The informal alliance of voluntary mowers was founded. The people personally sign a rally call.

The alliance can’t be charged because in legal terms it doesn’t correspond to anything.

There are, of course, trials, but the fines don’t run to 50,000 euros. So why not form a “collectif de désobéissants antinucléaires volontaires“, literally an “Alliance of Voluntary Disobedient Nuclear Opponents”.

Other suggestions and ideas will come through in the coming months.

The plutonium is being processed into MOX in Cadarache (which is not protected from earthquakes). Four months from now the hot cargo will be shipped back to the USA.

But if the USA doesn’t like the French MOX, the garbage will come back to France and turn it into an atomic lavatory…

Japan was not satisfied with the MOX from Areva, for example, and has just sent the garbage back.
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