Image via WikipediaTens of thousands demonstrated in Berlin Saturday against the government's proposal to extend the life of Germany's nuclear power plants for another decade or more. Waving banners and yellow and green balloons marked with the slogans of the anti-nuclear movement, they turned out in force to protest outside Chancellor Angela Merkel's headquarters.
The organisers -- environmental groups backed by left-leaning opposition parties -- put their numbers at 100,000, though police made it 37,000.
Special trains and 150 buses had been chartered to bring the demonstrators to Berlin from all over Germany.
Merkel's centre-right coalition agreed last weekend to lift the deadline of 2022 for the phasing out of nuclear power set by an earlier Social Democrat-led government.
The new plan would extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors for an average of 12 years beyond the previously scheduled shutdown.
Calculations in the German media suggest that the last plant will not be switched off until 2040, and critics say that operators may get away with keeping some running for even longer than that.
"It's a disgrace. We feel cheated", Hartwig Bottcher said, a 66-year-old retired teacher.
"During this time the pile of nuclear waste increases and we still don't know what to do with it," said 19-year-old student Laura, preferring not to give her full name.