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Environmentalists break through police line at German coal mine to protest use of coal

  • Protestors look at a huge bucket-wheel excavator as they arrive  for a demonstration  at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015. Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production.   ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)

    Protestors look at a huge bucket-wheel excavator as they arrive for a demonstration at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015. Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production. ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protestors arrive for a demonstration  at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015.  Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production.   ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)

    Protestors arrive for a demonstration at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015. Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production. ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Demonstrators stage a protest at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015. Banner reads: We do not have to stop protests. leave the coal underground. Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production.  ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)

    Demonstrators stage a protest at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany Saturday Aug. 15, 2015. Banner reads: We do not have to stop protests. leave the coal underground. Several hundred environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity production. ( Marius Becker/dpa via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Environmental activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest the use of coal, a major source of greenhouse gases.

The German news agency dpa reports that several hundred people from a group calling itself EndeGelaende — which loosely translates as "it's finished now" — broke through a police line in Garzweiler, west of Cologne.

Police spokesman Anton Hamacher says officers used pepper spray to stop the crowd and are removing protesters from the site.

A spokesman for German energy company RWE says several huge bucket-wheel excavators used at the open-pit mine had to be shut down for safety reasons. Spokesman Lothar Lambertz says RWE has canceled plans to bring employees onto the site to rally in favor of coal mining.