German-Dutch depleted uranium run 25 January

Translated by Diet Simon 23.01.2006 17:17 Themen: Atom
German and Dutch nuclear opponents plan to disrupt a consignment of depleted uranium hexafluoride they say is due to run Wednesday, 25 February, from Germany through The Netherlands to Russia.
The UF6, a product of the uranium enrichment process, will leave Germany’s only uranium enrichment plant in Gronau, near the Dutch border. The train will run to Rotterdam from where the deadly material will be shipped on to Russia.

A posting in German at cites “usually well informed sources” saying the train will leave Gronau “in the early evening of 25 January”.

In recent days busy loading of drums has been observed in the grounds of the Gronau enrichment plant. Cars of the type used for previous consignments were loaded.

The opponents name the route as Gronau via Ochtrup-Metelen(Land)-Steinfurt-Altenberge to Münster central station. It continues from there through Greven-Emsdetten-Rheine-Schüttorf-Bad Bentheim.

After crossing the border, the transport runs via Losser (De Lutte)-Oldenzaal-Hengelo-Almelo (directly past the Netherlands uranium enrichment plant in Almelo!) -Apeldorn-Utrecht to Rotterdam port. From there it goes by ship to Russia.

Although Gronau directly abuts the Netherlands border, the uranium train can’t roll directly from Gronau into the neighbour country. The rail link from Gronau to Enschede/NL ends at the station there.

That is why the transport has to take a 100 km detour to cross into the NL rail net at Bad Bentheim, where a new locomotive will be attached.

Opponents say a large police presence is again expected. Last year the train even carried German border police in a carriage of their own. Even helicopters were used.

A meeting of various anti-nuclear groups agreed on a joint vigil on Wednesday 25 January at 4 p.m. outside the gate of the Gronau plant.

Vigils were also announced for Münster central station (early evening) and The Netherlands.

From Tuesday 24th at 10 p.m. up-to-date information about contacts and support (sleeping places, etc.) will be available from phone Germany 0162-7752056. will post up-to-the-minute information, maps and news around the transport. There may also be a downloadable flyer available from the site.

It’s for handing to train travellers who will have to expect considerable schedule disruptions because of the protests on the routes Gronau-Münster and Münster-Bad Bentheim.

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At Trainstopper also gives tips on how to stop trains by emulating proper signalling.

Postings also show some apparent rivalry tension between anti- nuclear groups, with one allegation that state organs are stoking them.
Der Wilden 13 Eine reports that railway employees identify so closely with their corporation that they’re willing to put at risk demonstrators whom they regard as “real enemies”.

The writer cites at least three incidents where locomotive drivers did not stop for demonstrators despite unmistakable signalling.

In a Lüneburg court case a driver testified that he drove an ICE high-speed train deliberately close to demonstrators on the rails – the writer says within two metres – because he hoped the protesters would get frightened and flee.

“As the death of Sebastien in France has shown, police and railways don’t even shrink from manslaughter to act against undesired rail demos,” the post says.

Waldfee writes that most of the Gronau-Münster route is single-track. It had been observed in the past that on occasion the transport was stopped at small stations to let passenger trains pass.

“Perhaps there are chances there to get in front of the train with less risk. But without doubt, it remains dangerous. Keep cool heads!”
Münster activists expect the uranium train at central station between 7.30 and 8.45 pm. SOFA Münster writes that it will be shunted in the goods yards at Alfred-Krupp-Weg for about 40 minutes and roll back through central station a second time.

“Central station has often proved as a publicity-generating bottleneck for such transports,” Sofa writes.

The meeting of German and Dutch opponents at the weekend also announced vigils at Hengelo in the Netherlands.

A joint media statement says it’s questionable that the depleted uranium will be re-enriched in Russia, as claimed by the company. The highly radioactive and chemically very dangerous material was more likely just to be dumped.

Nuclear opponents and environmental activists demand the immediate closure of the Gronau enrichment plant to prevent nuclear waste piling up for which there will never be a safe repository.

Gronau is owned by the Urenco corporation, which also operates uranium enrichment plants in the Netherlands and Britain.

Earlier transports from Gronau to Russia carried between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride in long special trains right through towns and villages, past residential areas, schools and hospitals.

Local disaster relief organisations like fire brigades or the Red Cross are not informed about the transports and would be helpless in an emergency.

For example, a fire could not be extinguished with water because uranium hexafluoride reacts with water to form the highly corrosive hydrofluoric acid.

For about two years the atomic industry has no longer been able to run its uranium transports quietly and secretly. There have been frequent protest vigils and blockading actions on both sides of the border.

In addition to this transport, German and Dutch nuclear opponents are preparing cross-border protests to mark the 20th anniversary (26 April) of the Chernobyl meltdown for 22 April against uranium enrichment in Gronau and Almelo. Almelo lies about 30 km west of the border town Gronau. Both plants were licensed to expand last year.

Cooperating organisations:
Arbeitskreis Umwelt (AKU) Gronau

Aktionsbündnis Münsterland gegen Atomanlagen

Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz (BBU) e. V.

Natur- und Umweltschutzverein Gronau (NUG) e. V.

Nederlands Euregionaal Nucleair Overleg (NENO)

SOFA - Sofortiger Atomausstieg Münster

Widerstand gegen Atomanlagen (WIGA) Münster

The route to be taken in the Netherlands can be seen well at

Depleted uranium has no use except for the military. When used in military ammunition, on impact the uranium will vaporise and create highly toxic uraniumoxides, leading to the diseases recently named the "Gulf War Syndrome". Transporting depleted uranium is dangerous because it is highly toxic when released (it is a very heavy metal like lead).

Transporting depleted uranium is dangerous primarily because of its toxicity when inhaled. It is then also dangerous because, in a worst-case scenario, an airplane could crash into the train (for example).
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