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German activists try to block trainload of nuclear waste

German antinuclear activists blocked the route of a trainload of radioactive waste Tuesday, in a bid to disrupt a shipment headed for a storage site in northern Germany.

The train, carrying more than 80 tons of waste from a French reprocessing plant, rolled northward overnight toward an unused salt mine near the village of Gorleben, which has become the focus of Germany's well-organized antinuclear lobby.

Early Tuesday morning, two activists from the environmentalist group Greenpeace defied a massive police guard by climbing trees on either side of the tracks in thick woods.

They unfurled a banner denouncing Germany's dominant power companies before police climbed up alongside and forced them down.

"These shipments just can't be done securely," said Jan-Boris Ingerowski, 21, a law student from Hamburg who was part of the Greenpeace team.

The train was traveling 375-miles from the German border to Gorleben. By late morning it had reached Lueneburg, about 45 miles from its destination after being held up by a problem with the engine, police said.

Police also were able to cut free and remove two protesters who had chained themselves to the tracks just before Lueneburg. Similar tactics during the last shipment in March delayed the train by almost a day.

Police also cleared hundreds of people sitting on the rails at several points along the route. Near the town of Dannenberg, where the containers are to be loaded onto trucks for the final 12-mile leg to Gorleben, mounted police forced demonstrators off the road.

About 15,000 police have been deployed to protect the shipment.

The containers are stored in a warehouse at Gorleben because work exploring whether the salt mine is suitable as a permanent dump has been dragged out for decades by the controversy.