German anti-nuclear activist jailed for blocking train carrying radioactive waste Correspondent


On Thursday, May 11th, 2017 German anti-nuclear activist Hanna Poddig went to the prison of Hildesheim (Lower Saxony state) in order to serve her sentence of up to 110 days imprisonment. She had refused to pay a fine of Euro 1650 (around INR 116,000) for chaining herself to a railway track, and finally has to serve the prison term now.

Back on July 30th, 2012, Hanna and another protester had joined their arms together inside a metal tube that was chained to a railtrack. Just after midday, they were able to stop a trainload of diluted uranium waste, coming from the uranium enrichment facility of Gronau (Northrhine-Westfalia state), destined for the nuclear reprocessing plant of Pierrelatte, France. Without informing the local population, similar trains full of radioactive material are secretly passing through densely inhabited areas every four weeks. Several anti-nuclear groups like Robin Wood, ContrAtom, and regional alliances supported their peaceful action with banner droppings and colourful protests.

In case of a railway accident, there are not even emergency plans, though tens of thousands of inhabitants had to be evacuated immediately, or else suffering severe radiation hazards. Officially, Germany has started quitting energy production from nuclear plants, either closing down the reactors or giving a final date for switch off. Still, components like valves, software and know-how, and nuclear fuel (notably from Gronau enrichment facility) will continue to be exported for decades to other countries.

File photo: Hannah protesting against Areva in Hamburg, Germany for its destructive and anti-people project of setting up the world’s largest nuclear plant in Jaitapur, India.

When Hanna went to prison on Thursday, she was accompanied by about 30 people in solidarity, carrying lots of anti-nuclear banners. Lasting for longer than a day, a manifestation was held in front of the prison, where people could write postcards to the prisoner. Earlier, an activist named Cecile Lecomte was sentenced for blocking a nuclear train, local prison director Oliver Wessels paid the fine from his own pockets to avoid further public attention.

Hanna‘s argument, why she chose prison: “Of course, I could also pay the fine, however this would make the case less visible. District Court of Muenster chose to give me the highest penalty ever for somebody chaining herself to an object. Now it is important to me to get this case into public.” Other activists consider the sentence to be a symbol of the state’s monopoly to power. In their view, further protests against police, the legal system, fines and prisons are necessary, as highly controversial projects like nuclear power plants are forced onto people.

Hanna is looking forward to receiving letters and postcards of solidarity. She expects to be released after about four weeks of imprisonment, as activist groups already started collecting donations to spare her of some of the 110 days in prison possible. Peaceful actions against nuclear power, as well as declarations of solidarity, and photos of support are also welcome.

Her address in prison:
Mrs. Hanna Poddig
JVA Hildesheim
Godehardplatz 7
D-31134 Hildesheim,



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