Hundreds take part in anti-nuclear protest in Helsinki
Support for nuclear power remains strong in Loviisa
Hundreds of people took part in a silent demonstration in the centre of Helsinki on Tuesday to commemorate those killed in the recent disaster in Japan and to oppose increasing the use of nuclear energy in Finland.
“Finland – Japan of the North?” read one banner on the steps of the House of Parliament. The notion of an equivalency between Finland and Japan was promoted in past decades as an indication of fast economic development. Now the focus was on both countries’ heavy reliance on nuclear energy.
“It is sad that a disaster like this has to happen before we can even hold any discussions”, notes Päivi Piispa, who came to the demonstration from Espoo.
“Nuclear energy is dangerous. We saw it again. We should develop alternative means of producing energy to replace fossil fuels and nuclear power”, says her friend Katri Pulkkinen.
The two women expect that the events in Japan will spark public debate just in time for the Parliamentary elections in April.
Janne Kovanen, 16, came to the demonstration with a group of friends. He criticised decision-makers as being short-sighted.
“They do not think about what their decisions will mean to the next generation. Nuclear energy leaves a permanent legacy. We are not even given the possibility to influence decisions on our own future.”
Feelings were somewhat different in Loviisa, where two of Finland’s four operating commercial reactors are located. The first was completed in 1977, and since then, the plant has been the source of jobs and tax revenue for the city on Finland’s south coast.
The problems at Japan’s power plants do not seem to have had much of an effect on the views of local residents.
“Of course I support it”, says Anne Javanainen, who has a daughter working at the plant.
She says that the risk of natural disasters such as the earthquake that hit Japan is minimal in Finland.
However, there seem to be cracks in the pro-nuclear consensus in Loviisa, where a small anti-nuclear demonstration took place already on Sunday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Environment Minister Lehtomäki says events in Japan will affect Finnish nuclear debate (15.3.2011)
Finnish nuclear industry says Japan scenario unlikely in Finland (14.3.2011)
Damage to Japanese nuclear plants becomes political issue in Finland despite calls for moderation (14.3.2011)