Sweden is, by and large, seen as a pretty smart country. One of the smart things they did, 30 years ago, was vote by national referendum to ban construction of new nuclear power plants and phase out of the ones they have. Now that wisdom is under threat.
Protesters inside the fence of the Forsmak nuclear plant
Sweden, 14 June 2010
© Johanna Hanno / Greenpeace
The idea was to increase energy efficiency and build renewable energy (like solar, wind and hydro power) while getting rid of dirty nuclear. Lately though, the nuclear industry has been dressing itself up as eco-friendly - trying to pretend it's something it's not.
And, unfortunately, it looks like the politicians might be buying it. There's a vote this week in the parliament on whether to lift the ban - probably in favour of a "one off, one on" policy. A new nuclear power station would be allowed to come online whenever an old one goes offline.
For a country like Sweden, that would be surprisingly short sighted because any new plant will run for decades – building up piles of deadly nuclear waste the whole time. Not to mention the cost. A new, supposedly "modern" nuclear power station in neighbouring Finland is already billions of euros over budget (and years behind schedule), with the company trying to get tax payers to pick up the tab.
We brought our own fire engine.
Activists going over the fence into the Forsmark nuclear power station.
© Christian Åslund / Greenpeace
Risking arrest and looking silly to protest the stupidity of nuclear power
At 08:30 this morning 40 activists, dressed as renewable energy sources, such as the sun, wind and water, entered the Forsmark nuclear power plant about two hours drive north from Stockholm. Two paragliders also circled the plant with banner messages demanding Swedish politicians ‘Vote no to new nuclear power’.
All but two of the protesters have so far been arrested.
As Ludvig Tillman, energy campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic put it:
"The world is watching. Swedish parliamentarians must let reason guide their choice rather than propaganda from the nuclear industry and vote NO to nuclear power on June 17."
This particular nuclear plant was singled out for our protest for its particularly dodgy history. In 2006, the plant shut down after an electricity fault, and some say a meltdown was avoided by "pure luck".
Not a comfortable place to be dressed as a windmill.