Dismissed Simo Nuclear Power Plant
Karsikkoniemi in Simo, Lapland region (65.37,764N 024.42,188E) , was one of Fennovoima's two possible locations for a new nuclear power plant (NPP) in Finland. The other one was Hanhikivi in Pyhäjoki. In 2011 the company announced they have chosen Pyhäjoki.
Fennovoima wants to build a nuclear power plant in Northern Finland. The company is a new player in the energy field, as it so far only proposes a new nuclear plant, but doesn't own or operate anything yet. In the beginning its biggest shareholder was the German E.On, 30%. It had proposed two alternative sites: Karsikkoniemi in Simo, Lapland region and Hanhikivi in Pyhäjoki.
Fennovoima about the history of the site selection process: "In the beginning of Fennovoima project in summer 2007, the company had almost 40 alternative sites. The number of alternatives was decreased gradually based on assessments and in December 2009 Fennovoima ended up having two alternatives, both located in Northern Finland: Pyhäjoki and Simo municipalities."
After the company had selected Pyhäjoki they explained their choice in a press release: "Several technical features in Pyhäjoki were more favorable. Due to technical benefits it is more feasible to construct a nuclear power plant to Pyhäjoki. Assessments show that the bedrock in Pyhäjoki is more solid. This means that operations like excavation works are easier to carry out. In Pyhäjoki, seismic design values are lower than in Simo. This has an impact on the design of the structures, systems and equipment of the plant. The length needed for cooling water tunnels is about one kilometer shorter in Pyhäjoki. In addition to these technical features, Pyhäjoki's benefit is that there are very few permanent residents and summer houses near the power plant site, which means that the construction will cause less disturbance for the neighborhood."
Both site proposals received resistance from locals and activists. Pyhäjoki has Pro Hanhikivi association, which was founded in 2007 in order to oppose the new nuclear power plant construction project by Fennovoima.
On July 24, 2009 unknown anti-nuclear activists attacked Fennovoima's office in Simo and graffited the walls. It was reported to be the first anti-nuclear action in Lapland.
In summer 2009 the Nuclear Climate Camp in Lapland gathered activists from different countries to pay attention to Fennovoima's plans. Activists visited Simo and its neighbouring town Kemi, spoke to concerned locals and local authorities, distributed flyers and performed street actions.
Locals, anti-nuclear activists and other concerned individuals have critised Fennovoima's choice by pointing out that:
- the proposed Simo Nuclear Power Plant site is close to the Maksniemi village and fishing harbour, which is an area is used for leisure and fishing with 160 recreational residences, many of which are year-round use. The area has good berry picking, mushroom picking, hunting and outdoor terrains, which are used by thousands of residents of surrounding areas. Bird life and flora in the area is diverse. 13 breeding bird species are protected under the EU Birds Directive (Annex 1). The area has a number of threatened plant species, which would be destroyed by the power plant construction. Low-lying beaches and the adjacent protected areas will also be affected, including a Natura 2000 protected beach just opposite the cooling water dump area;
- The company had no experience in any kind of engineering work, so both locations were selected without knowing the possible problems. There was no knowledge of how to build the world's most powerful NPP in this kind of arctic area, where shallow water and drifting ice can cause serious problems to the cooling systems. Pack ice is reported to create high walls, from sea bottom to more than 10 meters above surface. This can completely block the cooling water intake, approx 60 to 90 cubic meters of water per second is needed to run the facility. The emergency cooling systems needs lots of water too, though the amount is somewhat smaller;
- The cooling water damages local winter tourism as well. By melting large areas of ice, there will be no snow scooter safaris after the reactor is started. The tourist-icebreaker Sampo will suffer from this lack of ice too. And the local people are relying on the ice to visit their cottages during the winter;
- Another problem caused by the cooling water is damage to fishing. The salmon migrating routes to all the nordic salmon-rivers (Simo, Tornio and Kalix) go right through the middle of the proposed water intake spot. The plant will be killing all the migrating fish, causing a complete extinction of salmon in the Baltic Sea;
- There was a population of 3,200 people inside the 5 km protection zone, which is more than 10 times higher than allowed. The area includes a school, a daycare centre and an elderly house. Within the 20 km radius there are over 30,000 people living in Kemi, Simo and Keminmaa. The Kemi city centre is only 12 km north of the reactor core.
Simo on the Nuclear Baltic Map: nr. 9