For our english-speaking friends everywhere, a longer report about the events so far:
The Fennovoima Energy Company is starting to construct a nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki, a nice, quiet and small municipality in the northwest of Finland. An action camp has been started in the area to stop the project.
During the second half of April, Fennovoima cut 95 hectares of very special coastal forest at the construction site. They didn’t wait for a month for the legal permission to clearcut the landscape. Instead, Fennovoima started destroying the forest on Wednesday, the 15 of April. The forest was a home for several rare birds and other species. Nests of endangered white-backed woodpeckers (Dendrocopos leucotos) were destroyed, a very rare white-tailed eagle got disturbed as dozens of machines demolished its neighborhood.
The operation was carried out by the Waste Management Company Lassila & Tikanoja. The fast start of the cutting was a shock for many people and organizations. The local nature conservation association, the bird protection association and the antinuclear organization Pro Hanhikivi that have been opposing Fennovoima complained and demanded to stop the cutting of the forest immediately. The nesting season of the birds had started already. Many antinuclear people resigned their waste management contract with Lassila & Tikanoja immediately.
In Helsinki 5 people from the Hyökyaalto Eco Action Group took necessary action and entered the headquarters of Lassila & Tikanoja, in order to distribute flyers to the workers in their offices and they refused to leave the building before the cuttings would be stopped. Three people were carried out by police and arrested. They were released on the same day.
We, the Hyökyaalto Eco Action Group, had already planned to start a camp at the forest area, but now we had to hurry. On Tuesday morning, the 21th of April at 6 AM, four people arrived at the cape of Pyhäjoki and witnessed the apocalyptic view of dozens of machines killing the forest. During the following six days the cutting machines were working 24/7. We had been in contact with local cabin owners, and now we just waited to get the cabin keys – and the occupation camp started. The locals were upset, since Fennovoima had been given a special permission that made it possible for them to expropriate land from the locals, which had belonged to their families for generations. The locals knew their cottages on the shore should be emptied by the 31th of May, but they still didn’t know what the compensation price would be.
The next morning more people arrived from northern Finland and plenty of locals arrived to see the clearcuttings. Soon one person climbed high into a tree, in order to occupy a small part of forest left over to stop it from being cut. At the same time, two cars blocked the road off from the cutting machines and security cars. Some people just ran to the machines and placed themselves in front of them so that they were forced to stop the cuttings. When the cops arrived, they got loads of frustrated feedback from Pyhäjoki people, including one person who had first parked his car to block the road. They reminded the cops that they had never been heard when they complained about the crimes of Fennovoima’s, but now the cops were there immediately to protect Fennovoima’s destruction of the forest for the nuclear power plant. Two people that had blocked the machines were arrested by the cops immediately. The tree and small forest area was occupied successfully for 16 hours. Activists from the Hyökyvaalto Group supported the occupation of the tree by bringing warm clothes, food and clean water. In the night a heavy snow storm stopped the occupation of the small forest area and the activist was forced to leave his position in the tree. The next morning that small part of the forest was simply cut down.
Meanwhile, on the next night in Helsinki, in response to the cutting operations, two vans of the waste company Lassila & Tikanoja were burned out completely and a third van was damaged in the same fire. People in the camp and around it welcomed the news from south joyfully. We didn´t hear a negative word about the arsons.
In the camp all kind of little disturbing of the work process became a daily routine. The only road to the cabins goes through the clean cut area and is used by the cutting workers, so people who used the road slowed down the disturbing of the environment whenever there was a log truck or security car on the road. Soon the security company forgot that the road is a public road and started stopping cars from getting to the shore area where the cottages are and accused us as well as the locals for trespassing in the area. Fennovoima’s illegal attempts to try to occupy the cape, while it was still privately owned and public accessible land, raised even more anger amongst the residents.
On Saturday the next bigger blockade was carried out by the activists. A forest tractor was stopped and blocked for 6 hours as three people jumped onto it, chained and locked themselves to it. A bit later one activist changed vehicles when a log truck was stopped on the road next to the forest tractor and he blocked the log truck. A media show was on. One person from the camp had already been on air in the local radio station and was talking about Fennovoima and direct action, but now the pictures of repeating protests spread throughout the media nationwide. The companies attempt to carry out the work in silence didn´t work out after all.
Just a few days later, on Tuesday, a group of four people attempted to block a log truck that was speeding down the road. Three of them stood on the road prepped with a banner, ready to jump upon the truck the moment it would slow down. The optimistic trust towards the truck driver created a lethal risk, since the driver made no attempt to stop. They had to jump off the road and into the ditch, but one person managed to run after the truck, jump onto it, and climb onto the logs while the truck was still driving. Soon the truck had to stop and the banner was raised. It took several hours before the cops and firemen managed to get him off his position on the truck.
In the last few days there has been more and more critical news about Fennovoima and their actions. There are only two months left until the deadline on June 2015, when Fennovoima needs to have 60% Finnish ownership according the government officials, and it´s still lacking investors. The Finnish state partly owns a company named Fortum and they are negotiating about Russian involvement in hydropower and are about to buy 15% of Fennovoima. If that wouldn´t happen, Fennovoima would be in deep problems. They would probably not be able to cut themselves off of the construction contracts before 1th of July when their decision in principle (permission from the government and parliament) will expire and they would need to start the whole political process again.
Many people wonder if any reasonable company would be willing to jump into the mess Fennovoima has created, or still consider if they want to confirm the old contracts.
Until the 31th of May the cabins will be legally in the use of the campers, but let´s see how the expropriations will be put into action. We have never said we would leave the cape at that date. During the next period, Fennovoima may attempt to build a fence to cover the construction area along the cape and build the electricity system for the upcoming construction site of the nuclear power plant. This spring and summer will be a period of active resistance for us, and we don’t intend to leave the area after the summer period either. Now is the best moment to make the greedy nuclear power project fall. Still, we need help!! Join the resistance!
Right now, we have been more than successful in our fight against Fennovoima. We have supporters and several different resources to continue our resistance. We have found a vast majority of people positively supporting us through social media, email, phone, and the local supporters have been generous in providing us with clean drinking water, washing facilities and shelter.
And yet, nevertheless, more people are needed here, in Pyhäjoki. We have become a mixed group of people of environmentally concerned people, activists, locals, and also average people who have become aware of the situation through social media and, instead of just “liking”, took a bus to Pyhäjoki to join us in our cozy and family-like, warm camp.
Everybody can make a difference, either through cooking nice food for our daily meals, writing texts about the events here for (social) media, addressing locals and workers, handing out flyers and other tasks. And if you are an adventurous person you can join us in our actions. If you love animals, come and take pictures of the crimes committed against the endangered species that are left and frightened, since they only have small areas of forest left to live in.
The final expropriation date has been set by Fennovoima to the end of May. This is the most important time to gather at the cape of Hanhikivi, the most beautiful place of nature that Finland has to offer for nature lovers, families and those who love to see rare species of animals in their natural environment.