Damage to Japanese nuclear plants becomes political issue in Finland despite calls for moderation
The damage caused by the Japanese earthquake to nuclear facilities in the country is sparking a political debate in Finland, despite calls by Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen (Nat. Coalition Party) for moderation in the debate. On Sunday Katainen warned against making political capital on the tragic goings on in Japan.
The situation in Japan appears likely to turn the issue of nuclear energy into a larger-than-expected political talking point in the ongoing Finnish Parliamentary election campaign.
The environmental organisation Greenpeace and three other environmental organisations announced on Sunday that they will hold an anti-nuclear demonstration in Helsinki on Tuesday.
Greenpeace, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, the Finnish Nature League, and the Friends of the Earth have urged their supporters to gather in front of Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki.
Finnish Greenpeace energy spokesperson Jehki Härkönen criticised Katainen, saying that the ”Finance Minister’s faith in nuclear power knows no bounds”.
“The crisis situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant makes it more difficult to help the victims of the natural disaster, but the chairman of the National Coalition Party feels that this should not be discussed”, Härkönen said.
Green League energy expert, MP Oras Tynkkynen, said that everyone hopes that a major disaster could be averted at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
He also saw the events in Japan as a reminder of the risks of nuclear power.
“The nuclear industry often points out that the likelihood of a widespread accident in the normal use of nuclear energy in a country like Finland is minimal. However, if a nuclear accident does take place, the impact would be great - even catastrophic. While the likelihood is very small, the extensive consequences add up to a relatively high risk”, Tynkkynen writes in his blog.
On Saturday Jutta Urpilainen, leader of the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, called for an extensive study on the security arrangements of nuclear plants in areas with a high risk of earthquakes.
Opposition Left Alliance chairman Paavo Arhinmäki came out against building more nuclear power plants in Finland, even though Parliament has given its authorisation to the construction of two new plants.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Energy package debated in Parliament (12.5.2010)
Government had to vote on nuclear energy proposal (7.5.2010)
Intense wrangling behind government decision on nuclear energy (23.4.2010)
Government endorses two new nuclear reactors (22.4.2010)