An anti-Fennovoima occupation at Oulu Energia’s office

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The activists and residents of the Pyhäjoki anti-nuclear protest camp pulled out a bit of an office occupation on tuesday, 22th of March. The target and an unwilling host for the demonstration was the office of Oulun Energia (Oulu Energy), a municipality-owned energy company through wich the city council of Oulu invested 17 million euros to Fennovoima-Rosatom’s nuclear power plant project.

A good bunch of protesters and supporters alike walked promptly into the office, holding banderols demanding the city of Oulu to ”leave the Fennovoima-Rosatom nuclear power project” and demanding ”Oulu’s money for the people, not for nuclear”. To give a symbolical alarm call about the enviromental and economical risks of the Fennovoima-Rosatom nuclear project (and to be even louder of a pain in the chosen corporate bottom) the occupiers clicked on a good couple of rape alarms.

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The staff of Oulun Energia made their opinions clear from the beginning: and one thing they did not like, was to be critized over the nuclear issue. ”The regular staff got more physical and confrontative than the actual office security”, commented one of the occupiers. While grabbing the banderolls and calling the police, the office staff also did their best to push the demonstrators back in to the staircase of the three-store building and tried to lock them out.

After a while the police rolled in. The Oulun Energia staff went through great efforts on trying to find a way to get the police in and the demonstrators out as sneakily as possible: for one reason or another they really wished not to get caught in the public eye. Three person’s were detained and dragged out of the office, handcuffed and face-down from the third-floor stair case. The occupiers stated that they did not felt this to be an act of violence or intimidation from the police: they simply suspect that the 17 million euro’s investment to the nuclear project has already drained the city of Oulu so poor that they cannot even feed their police personnel well enough – and thus, the cops have gotten to weak to even carry a bunch of hippies down a staircase.

Meanwhile, a couple of demonstrators had made their way to the very roof of the building and performed a banner drop: wich proved itself to be a much trickier of a banderoll to grab off.

Why Oulun Energia, why to occupy?

The office occupation was dedicated to three different directions. First and foremost, it was a direct critique for the city of Oulu, who through its city council voted yes for investing public money to the Fennovoima-Rosatom’s nuclear project.

Second, the message was sent out to the company Voxtel Finland, who recently started working for Fennovoima-Rosatom. Voxtel Finland is a company providing consults to deliver cheap foreign worker’s and services to supervise the paperwork and legalities when doing dealing’s with a foreign company. As their references they only list a few employers: from wich the most notable one is the infamous Olkiluoto 3: the very one that French Areva wishes to get ridd off and wich very nearly got closed down by the major labor union’s for all the unpaid salaries, human trafficing accusations and moonlighted tax avoidance the constuction has so far performed.

For third, the President’s of Finland and Russia – and thus, one of the leading figure’s of Russian nuclear giant Rosatom – held a meeting in Moscow on that Tuesday: and even if we all know the state figure heads do not listen the plebs, it still seemed like a good moment for a little symbolical postcard.

So why to have a go for a municipality-based investment on Fennovoima-Rosatom? Let’s cut into the statistics of this: Rosatom owns 34 % of the overall project. The municipality-based small energy companies hold over 30 % of it. The first paragraph of the municipality law states that ”a municipality should work towards the well-being of its residents and advance the sustainable development on its area”. First off, we fail to see how this rings together with investing public money to a multinational nuclear energy company. For second, the Fennovoima-Rosatom project is committed to the Mankala principle: by that fact and the law over these joint-stock corporation issues, the owner is the one who carries the financial risks. And in this case, the city council represents the owner. The original price-estimation for the power plant was 6 billion euros. In a couple of years, before the constuction has even begun, it has already rised to 7 billion euros. Wich is a big bill for the residents of Oulu to pay: expecially on these days of rabid austerity measures already being taken.

Fennovoima-Rosatom did originally declear the nuclear project to be standing solemnly on private money and corporate investments. This has already proven itself to be a – we’re not going to say ”a lie”, but we’ll say ”not exactly true”. The second point they have emphasized is the lovable old excuse about creating jobs for locals: wich, in an area of high and still rising unemployment tends to sell. Now, Fennovoima-Rosatom recently published new funky images on their website, a few of them mapped images of the planned nuclear construction site. Couple of meters away from the gates are the clearly marked and named barracks of the workers: a spit image of the cheap barracks used at Olkiluoto 3, with a same Voxtel Finland now working on the site. Everyone with any sense left has of course known from the beginning that these talks about creating jobs for the locals are mere ”glass pearls for the Indians”: but these details should draw that fact out clearly enough for everyone.