Protest at Olkiluoto nuclear plant construction site

Feature story - 30 May, 2007
On Monday, activists blockaded the entrance to the Olkiluoto nuclear plant construction site - briefly shutting down a project already massively over budget and plagued by more than one thousand reported breaches of safety standards.

Six Greenpeace activists continue their two-day occupation of a 100-meter-high construction crane at the heart of the reactor Olkiluoto 3 construction site in Finland. The activists have positioned themselves 80 meter up in the crane. The occupation is a protest against the 1500 safety problems that have been revealed during construction of the plant.

Update (31 May):

 The EU Energy Commissioner is prepared to meet with Greenpeace duringhis visit to the nuclear reactor Olkiluoto 3 construction site tomorrow.

Update (1 June):

 We met with the EU Energy Commission today, and he agreed there shouldbe more transparency and openness.  The last three activists havecome down and are safe. ( read more)

Policearrested the activists in the blockade, but six others went into thesite and climbed 80 metres up the highest construction crane. Theystayed there over night, through the next day and through a secondchilly night with temperatures dropping into the low teens (Centigrade).

Today,three of the activist (2 from the UK, 1 from France) made the longclimb down, leaving their supplies for the three Finnish activistsremaining on the crane. These last activists will try to hold out atleast until Friday when the EU Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, isscheduled to visit.

"Safety rules are being bent to save timeand money, said Lauri Myllyvirta", one of the activists occupying thecrane. "This is completely unacceptable for a nuclear power project. Anevaluation is urgently needed so that the myth of cheap and safenuclear energy is dispersed. Nuclear is not and cannot be a solution tothe threat of climate change", he continued.

Police are keepingjournalists out of what is supposedly a "secure" area - preventing themfrom taking photos of the activists on the crane.  But two otheractivists walked in and wandered around the construction site forhours.  

What's wrong at Olkiluto

  • It's massively behind schedule.  Construction that was supposed to take four years will now take at least six.
  • It'smassively over budget.  The original cost estimate was 2.5 billioneuros.  Now it's expected to top 4 billion euros.
  • Theproject was supposed to require no public subsidies. In reality it isreliant on an export guarantee financed by French taxpayers and adirt-cheap loan from public banks.
  • The originalquality requirements weren't being met - so they were relaxed. The consequences of a faulty reactor being put into service could bedisastrous.

And besides all that, nuclear power is anightmare of problems in general.  There's no proven solution tothe piles of waste, encouraging more countries to use nuclear powerleads to nuclear weapons proliferation, the plants are ready madeterrorist targets... Nuclear is a costly and dangerous distraction fromreal solutions to climate change like saving energy and renewableenergy.  In Finland, for example, energy consumption by newbuildings can be cut by more than 70 percent.

That's whyconstruction should stop now - before any more money and time iswasted.  The responsible company, Teollisuuden Voima Oy, shouldalso publish all 1,000+ quality problems, and repay the state aid ithas received for the reactors.

Photos

More images of the occupation from Flickr.

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