Brokdorf nuclear power station, Germany

Several events marked the beginnings of the German anti-nuclear power movement: among them, the huge protests over the Brokdorf reactor, which began in 1976 and lasted until 1986, leading to violent confrontations with police.

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns">As Alexander Glaser (2012) explains, several projects and events marked the beginnings of the German anti-nuclear power movement: among them are the huge protests over the Brokdorf reactor, which began in 1976 and led to "civil war-like" confrontations with police. Both main parties, CDU and SPD, stronly supported nuclear power. The Greens did not come to Parliamente with a few members until 1883. The early history of nuclear opposition in Germany was based on Bürgerinitiative, radical political groups, and scientists. Forty years later and after Fukushima in 2011, this long story  led to a final phase-out of nuclear power in Germany. The early enthusiasm for nuclear power started to wane by the 1970s. By 1980, the historian Joachim Radkau was led to title his account of nuclear power development in Germany "The Rise and Fall of the German Atomic Industry”. We follow here Glaser's (2012) explanation. The  planning for a light-water reactor at the Brokdorf site, 45 miles northwest of Hamburg, had been underway since the late 1960s, but became a public issue only in November 1973, at a time when several power reactors were already operating in Germany. The Brokdorf controversy had a lesser known prelude at another proposed reactor site near the town of Wyhl, where the peaceful occupation of the construction site by local community groups led to a construction stop and ultimately the cancellation of the project. After this success, the German federal government decided to set a precedent and avoid a second Wyhl at all costs. In October 1976, within hours of receiving the construction permit, police secured the Brokdorf site with barbed wire while construction workers were moving in equipment. That night, police forces clashed with opponents who were trying to occupy the site, just as in Wyhl three years earlier. Only this time, violence rapidly escalated, attracting significant national media attention. Four weeks later, more than 30,000 people gathered to demonstrate against the Brokdorf project. These protests led to a construction stop in October 1977, which was formally justified by the lack of a disposal strategy for spent fuel. Brokdorf had become a powerful symbol of the German anti-nuclear movement, and in February 1981, about 100,000 demonstrated against the project, confronting a police contingent of more than 10,000, at the time, the largest police operation in the history of West Germany. To summarize (with materials also from other sources) the largest onsite demonstrations were in November 1976, February 1977, January 1981 and June 1986.  In February 1977, 6,500 <a>riot police</a> and 2,000 <a>border guard</a> officers were mobilized from across West Germany. Altogether, over 1,000 vehicles, including <a>water cannons</a>, <a>armored cars</a> and other, were used by the authorities in Brokdorf. Roadblocks were erected throughout Germany, and people entering through the <a>Danish</a> and <a>Dutch</a> border were questioned. onstruction stopped ffor four years. When construction was about to resume in February 1981, about 100,000 people demonstrated against the project, confronting a police contingent of over 10,000.  More confrontations and political wrangling followed, but the Brokdorf nuclear power reactor eventually started operation in October 1986, a few months after Chernobyl. Brokdorf marks a failure in the long trayectory (started at Wyhl, near Freiburg in the early 1970s) of the powerful anti-nuclear German movement. The strong demonstration waere of two kinds, militant one from autonomist and K-groups (left groups), and pacifist demonstration in nearby Izenhoe or in Kiel or Hamburg.  Many years later, still in 1993, it was reported by WISE that on Nov. 22, army vehicles with water cannons reappeared for the first time in many years in front of the Brokdorf nuclear plant near Hamburg, Germany. The occasion was a blockade of heavy trucks carrying spent fuel from the plant to Sellafield by 100 protesters calling themselves the Action Alliance Against the Brokdorf-Sellafield Shipments. "Saving the Children of Sellafield" was the slogan chosen for the demonstration in a spirit of solidarity with the final stage of struggle against the THORP startup in Britain. The spent fuel rods have a long way to go: first by truck to the village of Brunsbüttel, then by train to Dunkirk in France, then by ship to Dover and on to Sellafield. The whole transport will last four days. Over the next six years, six shipments of this kind will take place per year.  </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Brokdorf nuclear power station, Germany</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/germany">Germany</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td> Schleswig-Holstein</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Steinburg</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Nuclear</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Nuclear power plants</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/electricity'>Electricity</a><br /><a href='/commodity/uranium'>Uranium</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant is a PWR of 1440 MW of power, in the the municipality of Brokdorf in Steinburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It started in October 1986, a joint venture of PreussenElektra and Hamburgische Elektrizitäts-Werke (HEW). Nowadays, Vattenfall Europe Nuclear Energy GmbH owns 20% and E.ON 80%. It uses uranium dioxide fuel and also MOX fuel. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">The cost with the delays was estimated at 3.5 billion DM, equivalent to about USD 2 billion.<br/><br/>The decommissioning of the plant is planned for 2021<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>2,000,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>400,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1976</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/preussenelektra'>PreussenElektra </a> from <a href='/country-of-company/germany'><small>Germany</small></a><br /><a href='/company/hamburgische-elektrizitats-werke-hew'>Hamburgische Elektrizitäts-Werke (HEW)</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/germany'><small>Germany</small></a><br /><a href='/company/vattenfall-europe-nuclear-energy-gmbh'>Vattenfall Europe Nuclear Energy GmbH </a> from <a href='/country-of-company/sweden'><small>Sweden</small></a><br /><a href='/company/eon'>E.ON </a> from <a href='/country-of-company/germany'><small>Germany</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Government of Schleswig-Holstein<br/><br/>Police forces, Federal Ministry of Interior<br/><br/>Administrative courts<br/><br/>Federal Constitutional Court, West Germany</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Bürgerinitiative Umweltshutz Unterelbe (Lower Elbe Environmental Citizen Initiative)<br/><br/>Autonomous and political left-wing (K-groups)</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>International ejos<br /> Local ejos<br /> Local government/political parties<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Local scientists/professionals<br /> Religious groups</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Blockades<br /> Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes<br /> Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Sabotage<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Property damage/arson<br /> Occupation of buildings/public spaces</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Risk of radiation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Other environmental related diseases</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Militarization and increased police presence<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Displacement</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Criminalization of activists<br /> Court decision (victory for environmental justice)<br /> Court decision (failure for environmental justice)<br /> Repression<br /> Violent targeting of activists</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The strong opposition (perhaps the strongest opposition in Germany against a very large nuclear power station, owned by Vattenfall and E.On) finally failed, production of electricity started in 1986. One early court decision stopped work for four years, but upper courts allowed building the power station after 1981.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Roger Karapin, Protest Politics in Germany. Movements on the Left and Right Since the 1960s. Penn State U.P. 2007<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Alexander Glaser, From Brokdorf to Fukushima: The long journey to nuclear phase-out. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. 1 Nov. 2012,<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Anti-nuclear demonstrations in Brokdorf<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Marsch auf Brokdorf 1981, and other films on attacks by police against demonstrators<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>joan martinez alier</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>04/08/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>