"Putinjoki" painted over the road sign on entering Pyhäjoki municipality. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Debate heats up over nuclear power in northern Finland

Someone painted «Putin» over the road sign to Pyhäjoki, the municipality in northern Finland where a partly Russian owned nuclear power plant will be built.
August 02, 2016

It is unclear who painted «Putin» over the road sign.

«The large majority of the local people discuss and handle the topic in a very mature and constructive way. Local people are not outriggers,» says Juha Miikkulainen, Development Manager with Fennovoima to the Barents Observer.

Juha Miikkulainen is Development Manager with Fennovima. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

«My personal reaction is sadness,» says Miikkulainen when seeing the overpainted sign.

Greenpeace in Finland recently issued a report claiming that the municipal cumulative cash flow from the coming nuclear power plant will stay with red figures for a long time and might only turn positive after several decades.

Unlike most other nuclear energy companies in Europe, Fennovoima will sell all the electricity it produces at cost-price to its owners in proportion to their shareholdings. With such model, the owners, like the huge steel plant in neighboring Raahe, will have a predictable future electricity bill.

Greenpeace argues the long term income is difficult to predict as electricity market develops.

«For decades, the negative cash flow would cause a permanent pressure on a municipality that already has a tight economy,» the analysis reads.

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Comparing different scenarios in terms of duration and construction costs for the nuclear power plant and the development of the electricity market, the environmental group warns the actual economic losses may be high.

Pyhäjoki is located south of Oulu.

Fennovoima argues that over time, the production prices for electricity will fall, since the highest costs are in the start. 

With an estimated price tag of €6,5 to 7 billion, the project is by far the most expensive single industrial investment ever made in the Barents Region.

Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom owns, though its Finnish subsidiary RAOS Voima, 34 percent of the shares in Fennovoima.

Also the 1,200 MW water-cooled reactor and the assemblies with uranium will be supplied by Russia.

«Russia and Russians are not any special issue in the area as Russians have been the supplier in the latest megaproject in Raahe steel factory 50 years ago,» says Juha Miikkulainen.

«Russians are well known already in the area.»

Pyhöjoki NPP

Finland’s third nuclear power plant, Hanhikivi-1, will be build south of Oulu. The plant will be the second in the Barents Region after Kola NPP.

In May 2014, the municipality council of Pyhäjoki voted in favor of the project and a December 2015 poll among local residents showed a 68 percent support for building the nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, Pyhäjoki gets back its original road sign. Asked about the issue, Tuula Pörhö with the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) in Northern Osterbothnia confirms «Putin» has been watched away.

«I was told that the sign has already been cleaned,» she says.

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