GORLEBEN, Germany — A shipment of nuclear waste reached a German dump Thursday after a troubled railway trip from France that sparked massive environmental protests, leading to dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests.

The shipment took three days to make the 375-mile trip across Germany, repeatedly delayed by protesters, including several who chained themselves to the tracks Tuesday. The journey began at a reprocessing plant in western France.

But activists were apparently caught off-guard by the early morning departure of six trucks carrying the 60 tons of waste from the rail depot in the northern town of Dannenberg to the storage site in Gorleben.

Preceded by armored vehicles and a water cannon, the convoy inched along a road to the dump, completing the final 12-mile leg of the journey in about an hour, without incident. Helmeted police ran alongside the convoy.

Gathered in the freezing rain, a group of about 30 protesters whistled and waved flags as the trucks drove into the gates of the warehouse in Gorleben.

"I'm depressed," said Martin Schulz, a 26-year-old farmer from the nearby village of Quickborn who watched the convoy arrive. He said he had driven his tractor onto the road Thursday morning, but "I drove on again quickly before they bulldozed it."

The final stretch was considered particularly vulnerable to protest, and was the scene of clashes between police and activists during the last nuclear waste shipment in 1997. To prevent a repeat, about 20,000 police were mobilized in Germany's biggest security operation in years.

"We're surprised it went so fast," police spokesman Holger Winkelmann said. "Our forces were well-rested and did their job well, but the militants were tired out."