sociologist, chairman of
the former Lovisa-movement, the citizen movement against nuclear waste
disposal in Lovisa. (Ydinjätteen loppusijoitusta vastustavan Loviisa-liikkeen
puheenjohtaja vuosina 1997-2000. Kts. myös jälkikommenttia.)
What could have been done?
on the radwaste-battle, as seen from below
held at the Second FSC Workshop; Stakeholder Involvement and Confidence
in the Process of Decision Making for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear
Fuel in Finland. Turku, 14-16 November 2001. It was held also at the
YHYS Conference, Issues in Green Democracy Workshop: Revision of the
nuclear energy policy? Turku, Finland 24-25.11. 2005)
How best to describe the
three-year long battle between Posiva, the company promoting final disposal
of spent nuclear fuel, on one hand, and the local resistance, mobilized
in a citizen movement, on the other? A battle undoubtly reminding that
of Goliat vs David, i.e. rather uneven what comes to resources, influence
Probably one word is enough,
and that is ’theatre’. This because so much in the whole process,
especially concerning the environmental impact assessment (EIA), reminded
a dramatic spectacle with everything written in advance: the parts,
the complicated and stepwise choreography – and, above all, the whole
narrative, from the very beginning to the (from the resisters’ point
of view) bitter end.
What was, then, to be done,
as the outcome of it all seemed absolutely clear from the beginning?
Why bother, at all? If we, as citizens in Lovisa, were doomed already,
as nuclear sites usually are, nothing would, of course, change the main
script. Besides marginally, i.e. by choosing the location for the disposal
plant, between one of the two nuclear sites in Finland. Quite early
as it had become obvious that only these two sites (i.e. Hästholmen
in Lovisa and Olkiluoto in Eurajoki) were among the potential ones,
despite the official game with four candidates, of which two were non-nuclear
sites (Kivetty in Äänekoski and Romuvaara in Kuhmo).
This was, in short, the
situation confronting all those on the local level who decided, still,
to resist the location of the final disposal facility for radwaste in
their own municipality, in this case the small town of Lovisa. A town
whose citizens had, after all, always been explicitly promised not be
left with the spent nuclear fuel. (Note that I wrote Lovisa with only
one “i”, thus pointing out one of the main characteristics of the
Lovisa case, i.e. the language dimension - something I will return to
In my speech, I will try
to describe the spectacle as seen from below, especially from the activists’
point of view. I will do this by accounting for the strategy adopted
by the Lovisa movement, the citizen movement rapidly mobilized against
Posiva’s deposit plans, as soon as they became public the 4th
of January ‘97.
Of course one could claim
that the narrative offered above implies that the anti- nuclear waste
movement was rather preconceived in its attitudes. In a way this was
true. But so were, I’m positive, also the attitudes on the other side
of the table. This makes the theatrical metaphor even more accurate,
as both parts played their roles according to a prescribed scheme. Something
which made the desired confidence and trust from the very start a rather
Much can be said about
the matter of trust, of course, but let me here summarize two of the
reasons why there was such a great lack of confidence and credibility
from the start.
(i) The first reason lies
in the David vs Goliat constellation, i.e. in the feeling that the stakeholders
in this case were completely uneven, representing fundamentally different
weight categories. You don’t have to suspect any sort of conspiration
in order to judge the battle lost beforehand – so big and strong were
the vested interests.
(ii) The second reason
lies in the divison of power and the relationship between the applicant
and the regulating authorities. It is for most people unacceptable especially
that the applicant itself (according to the legislation) is obliged
to master the EIA, but also that the regulatory mandate is given to
the two state authorities so deeply involved in the nuclear industry
as The Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Nuclear safety authority,
STUK. This arrangement eliminated most of the confidence from the very
start, at least among those familiar with the nuclear network in Finland.
As this session deals with
the stakeholder involvement, particlarly in the EIA-process, I will
concentrate on this aspect, though it in many ways blurs the perspective.
In Lovisa, drawn into the location battle on a very late stage as we
were, the whole and intensive three-year campaign against the disposal
was almost parallell with the EIA-process. This forced the movement
to react in consequence with this, even if we considered the whole thing
rather useless and frustrating, I must admit. (Observe that we were
targeted also by another, almost parallell EIA, concerning a new power
plant. According to the official rhetoric totally independent of the
radwaste-EIA, but of course in many ways connected with this.)
From the beginning, it
was very clear for us in the Lovisa-movement that we had to the adopt
a simultaneous double-strategy, on one hand totally refusing to discuss
on the premises given by Posiva as well as by the authorities (as defined
both by the legislation concerning the radwaste and the stepwise EIA-process),
on the other participating in the process, in order not to be totally
marginalized. (But now, looking at the process in retrospective, I’m
not sure whether the latter was necessary. I think we would have done
quite well also by simply boycotting the EIA – perhaps even better.)
This is not the place to
discuss the disposal concept offered by Posiva, not to talk about nuclear
power in general. But of course the often very strong sentiments against
nuclear power heavily influenced those active in the movement. If there
was a lack of confidence, the reasons for this were, therefore, to be
found much earlier, and were much more basic in nature.
The Lovisa movement was,
however, mobilized explicitly in order to resist the disposal plant,
nothing else. The board included, e.g., even members who were pro nuclear
power. This deliberate narrowing of the focus didn’t, of course, prevent
almost every public event to get stuck into a discussion about “the
ancient Greeks”, i.e. disputing over and over again about all the
elementaries, which is, as we all know, quite frustrating for both sides.
But people simply aren’t that rational as it may look from the EIA-technocrat’s
desk. Or, to put it another way: the EIA, with its over-rational logic
simply does not fit here. (I.e., in contrast with Pekka Hokkanen, I
don’t find EIA a good thing!)
In short, Posiva’s manuscript,
in accordance with the main interpretation of the legislation concerning
spent nuclear fuel, offered no alternative to final deposit in bedrock.
The EIA, on the other hand, implied participating in a long, frustrating,
and co-optative process, however scientifically camouflaged as it was
- a process which from our point of view only legitimated a discourse
we refused to accept. And we were all the time quite aware of this Trojan
nature of the EIA; the more you got involved, the more you had to accept
the agenda-setting given.
Our strategy was, as I
mentioned above, double-sided in character, and based on three corner
stones: 1) broad representativity, 2) professionalism, especially in
the media, and 3) refusing to discuss on the premises given, offering
1. As the planned disposal
of radwaste affected not only Lovisa but also its surroundings the movement
included representatives not only from this town (with about 8 000 inhabitants),
but also from the four neighboring municipalities traditionally regarded
as the Lovisa region (in sum about 20 000 inhabitants - but the movement
actually included also more distant municipalities). Also in this respect
the movement thereby rejected the definition made by Posiva and the
legislation. From the very beginning the demand of a public referendum
was raised, and then explicitly concerning not only Lovisa, but at least
the neighbouring two municipalities, too. (Lovisa itself is geographically
quite small.) This demand was never put into practice, but evitably
effected the discussion, well known as it was that the anti-waste disposal
feelings were more pronounced in the surrounding municipalities.
A kind of referendum was,
however, put into practice, as the movement as one of its first steps
in April ’97 decided to publish a petition against the disposal plant,
thereby giving people living in the Lovisa region a possibility to declare
their standpoint with a clear and simple NO, as an alternative to the
written expressions of meaning in the EIA. The collection of names continued
during the whole process, and finally (in February ’00) included almost
3 900 names.
In this connection something
must be said also about the language dimension, as the cultural and
linguistic aspects were of significant importance, in many ways dividing
as they were the attitudes concerning the question at stake. Lovisa,
and the whole region, had formerly been dominantly Swedish in character,
something rapidly changed by the nuclear epoque, beginning in the early
70’s. From that on, the attitudes towards nuclear power in general,
and radwaste in specific, have been strongly language- and culture-related.
Or simplifying it: the nuclear age in Lovisa is strongly connected with
change also on the cultural level, with its loss of former privileges,
tradition and language. Or as I use to say: the nuclear age in Lovisa
has splitted not only atoms in the power plants but also the town itself
and its socio-cultural climate.
Much could, of course,
be said about these cultural cleavages (well known also from other parts
of the world), but let me restrict myself to one statement: I’m sure
that the language aspect involved affected the outcome of the location
contest at least as much as most of the investigations made as a part
of the EIA-process! It was, in short, for the actors involved too irritating
to be forced not only to play the EIA-game on many sites at the same
time, but also to do it simultaneously in two languages.
2. The professionalism
of the movement implied always keeping a very serious and knowledge-based
profile, in order to gain maximal credibility (especially in contrast
to the former anti-nuclear movement in the region, labelled populistic
as it usually was). This was possible by the relatively high degree
of experts from various fields in the movement, e.g. journalists, sociologists,
lawyers, teachers, actors etc. And, from the political feld, many of
the leading politicians in the different municipalities in the region.
Special attention was payed
to the publicity, especially in the local media, i.e. the two local
newspapers and the local radio (both of them in both Swedish and Finnish).
Though many of the journalists did not sympatize with the movement’s
program (in contrast with the situation in the 70’s and 80’s), we
didn’t have any greater problems in getting publicity, and in many
ways succeeded to keep the initiative, at least in the first, and perhaps
most decisive, problem-defining period. As every social scientist knows
(especially today, with a paradigm so dominating as social constructivism),
the question is about who defines the problem, and thereby setting the
I think the Lovisa movement,
though David-like in proportion, succeeded in redefining the scene of
the combat, thus tilting Goliat - at least a little bit.
3. Refusing the discourse
given meant offering alternative solutions and critizising both the
deposit-model offered by Posiva and the dramaturgy prescribed by the
legislation and the EIA-process.
The very first, and rather
successful, seminar was titled “There are alternatives!”, in April
1997. It introduced an alternative concept to the final bedrock deposit,
developed in Sweden (the so called Dry Rock Deposit, or DRD), described
more in detail by its designers in a following seminar one year later.
We didn’t have, of course,
resources enough to develop this theme deeply enough, but I think we
succeeded at least to keep in mind that there are - and above all, should
be! – alternative solutions. Especially such ones satisfying the demands
concerning a morally sustainable solution to the waste problem, i.e.
stressing the waste retrievability and reversibility. (This seems, by
the way, to be the most important adjustment caused by the critique
from the “anti-finalists” against the idea of a final deposit. Though
it, for sure, has been mainly cosmetique.)
Refusing to play the part
of the perfect citizen in the EIA-process meant participating in the
endless chain of seminars, hearings, surveys etc. - but only half-hearted.
Parallell with this participation (including writing several expressions
of opinion), we all the time found it much more important to introduce
alternative solutions and perspectives. One such alternative was to
put the whole EIA-process in question, e.g. by arranging a seminar explicitly
focussing on this matter.
After this short and rather
sketchy description of the strategy adopted by the Lovisa movement,
let me conclude some of the observations made.
In all the three respects
mentioned above (the broad representativity, the professionalism and
the altering of the agenda) the citizen movement can be said to have
been successful - even if I, due to my position in the movement,
of course could be disqualified from making such assessments! We succeeded,
at least partly, if not to change the definition and the agenda at stake,
at least to put it seriously in question. We also partly succeeded,
as mentioned above, in keeping the initiative in the media, at least
on the local level *). But above all, we succeeded in our main and only
purpose (at least explicitly), i.e. to stop the radwaste deposit in
Lovisa. The movement therefore decided officially to put and end to
its activities in February 2000, by arranging a last public seminar,
analyzing the whole process.
But we didn’t succeed
- and that, at least in my opinion, is of much greater importance -
in our most crucial issue, i.e. resisting the whole idea of eliminating
the problem by hiding it deep in the bedrock. Passing it over to the
neighbour (in this case the Eurajoki municipality) was absolutely no
victory in our mind. The Lovisa movement, together with our colleagues
in Kuhmo (Romuvaara movement) and Äänekoski (Kivetty movement), never
accepted the accusations according to which we were suffering the usual
NIMBY-syndrome, i.e. “Not In My BackYard”. For instance, the Lovisa
movement stated that we even prefer a prolonged temporary deposit on
the ground in Lovisa, instead of a final deposit in the bedrock in Eurajoki.
But all that was, of course,
in vain. The nearer the end of the EIA-process we came, the more it
showed its real Potemkin-character. Or, as I used to say in the first
phase of the process: the mission for Posiva didn’t lie in finding
the rock best suited for the purpose, but the community naive, brave
or stupid enough (choose the word) to accept the radwaste. Posiva itself
disqualified the process by first launching an advertisement campaign
in the autumn 1998, cheaply underestimating all the critical voices,
and then definitely nullified the dialogue (as the researcher Matti
Kojo put it in an article analyzing the process) by the Vuojoki-agreement
with Eurajoki in May 1999 - i.e. before the EIA-process had been brought
to a close.
Or to summarize, in contrast
with most of the speakers on this conference, I don’t think the EIA-instrument
suits this kind of a complex problem – it is far too rational in logic,
expertise-driven in practice and – in this case – betraying by intention.
At last, some words about
moral. The nearer the end of the play we came, the more the discussion
was turned into a moral issue – but now turned up side down, at least
in the opinion of all those who always had rejected nuclear power, explicitly
from a moral point of view, i.e. referring to the unsolved waste problem.
Now, Posiva in its rhetoric tried to convince that the moral issue at
stake was to solve the problem at last, and definitely, and not to leave
it to the generations to come. That is, however, precisely what the
anti-nuclear movement had always claimed, as the crucial and morally
most weighty argument against dealing with nuclear power, altogether!
We were, therefore, trapped
- and still are. A fact even more obvious today, living as we are after
September the 11th. But even a short glance in the annals of the anti-nuclear
movement shows that we knew it from beginning, and always warned against
it: nuclear power is incompatible with terrorism. And terrorism is something
we never can exclude from our scenarios, at least if we are serious
– whatever our leaders may say.
*) One of our major mistakes,
and this goes for all the three citizen movements, was in mainly keeping
to the local level – something which suited Posiva perfectly. As a
matter of fact Posiva can be said, by intention or not, to have successfully
followed the ancient strategy of divide et impera. The three citizen
movements dominated the local arena during the first, local phase, that’s
true – but who cared, as nobody knew anything of all this on the national
level! The discrepancy between the massive discussion and activity on
the local level and the total silence on the national one was, indeed,
When the process in the
end of the Millenium reached its second phase, and the radwaste-question
was lifted to the political level (by bringing the decision in principle
to the Government and the Parliament), we all realized – too late
– that we didn’t have energy, time nor resources to go through it
all again. We were, after all, amateurs fully occupied with our ordinary
jobs, families etc. No wonder, then, that the decision ran so smoothly
through the political apparatus – the fighters lied half-dead on the
local battle-grounds, too tired to take part in the last and most crucial
There are, still, some
organizations that have been active also on the national level, such
as the nature protection organization, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth
etc., but these are not always defined as stakeholders, and thereby
excluded from the scene. (This goes, by the way, also for the FSC Workshop,
as the opponent side was represented only by two local activists, but
no organization on the national level – some of which I know have
been openly critical against this.)
The Finnish decision concerning
a disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel may look like a miracle of
confidence and trust. But let us not forget that the last part of the
play gives a rather biased picture of the process. From the local point
of view, it looks quite different. But how to make that reality visible?
Ylläoleva artikkeli on
siis kuvaus siitä, miltä kansalaisliikkeen näkökulmasta tuntuu taistella
ylivoimaista ydinvoimateollisuutta ja sitä tukevia viranomaisia vastaan.
Se perustuu puheeseen, jonka alunperin pidin Turussa v. 2001 pidetyssä
kansainvälisesssä konferenssissa, johon osallistui ydinjäteongelman
kanssa toimivia yrityksiä ja viranomaisia, eli Posivan, STUK:in sekä
yhteysviranomaisen, eli KTM:n, kolleegoja ympäri maailmaa.
olen kirjoittanut artikkelissa ”Turhauttavaa teatteria. Loppusijoitus-YVA
Loviisa-liikkeen näkökulmasta”, kirjassa: Tapio Litmanen &
Pekka Hokkanen & Matti Kojo (toim.): Ydinjäte käsissämme.
Suomen ydinjätehuolto ja suomalainen yhteiskunta. SoPhi, Jyväskylän
yliopisto 1999; s. 266-282. Artikkelissa varoitan sinisilmäisyydestä
YVA-menettelyn suhteen. YVA on aina ensi sijassa hankalien hankkeiden
legitimointiväline – ja sitä varmemmin niin, mitä suuremmasta ja
strategisesti tärkeämmästä hankkeesta on kyse.
Loviisan kokemuksista ydinvoimakauden ajalta olen kirjoittanut artikkelissa ”Kun Loviisa atomisuukon sai. Kolmekymmentä vuotta ydinvoimaa pikkukaupungin näkökulmasta”, kirjassa: Matti Kojo (toim.): Ydinvoima, valta ja vastarinta. Like 2004; s. 159-178. Se on eräänlainen kokonaisanalyysi siitä, mitkä ovat olleet atomikauden seuraukset kaupungille, niin taloudellisesti kuin myös kulttuurisesti ja henkisesti.
The text is ©copyright of the author(s)
the protest list at
Aktionsgruppen/Toimintaryhmä Pro Kilgrund kilgrund at gmail.com
kontakt - yhteys - contacts
kilgrund at gmail.com