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by Euro Reporter
2012-11-15 09:17:19
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Finland's Jewish community denies advising Jews not to wear kippah in public

Finland's Jewish community has strongly denied media reports that one of its security officers had advised Jews in the capital Helsinki not to wear Jewish headgear in public for fear of anti-Semitic attacks.

A Jewish security official who had allegedly said in an interview that community members should not wear a kippah when walking in the streets due to the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the area had been misquoted, Dan Kantor, executive director of the Helsinki Jewish Community, told the World Jewish Congress. He made it clear that the story was false and that there was "no reason" to give such an advice.

The Israeli news service 'YNet' and other media had reported about the issue. Around 1,500 Jews live in Finland today, most of them in the capital Helsinki. Kantor said that of the estimated 1,200 Jews in Helsinki "only a very small number wear a yarmulke in public and those who do so have not experienced any hatred or similar expression of anti-Semitism."


Finland's biggest chemical catastrophe in history

Greenpeace Finland is bearing witness and taking samples at a toxic spill that began on Sunday in the north of the country. The Talvivaara metal mine, owned and operated by Talvivaara Mining Company plc, has been leaking water containing high concentrations of nickel and uranium at a rate of between 5000-6000 cubic metres an hour. It is believed that the leak took place when the mine’s waste-water pool was breached on Sunday.

At first, Talvivaara mine was like a dream. A new beginning. A source of employment and tax money for Northern Finland. This was the level of excitement when the new mine opened in Kainuu, some 550 kilometres from Helsinki. Pekka Perä, an ex-employee of the Finnish mining company Outokumpu had bought the site from his former employer for the price of one Euro. The site had been considered unprofitable but Mr Perä was convinced it could become a showcase of a “mining renaissance.” He had a brand-new "bioleaching method" that would allow him to extract tiny concentrations of materials. The dream didn’t last long and the wake-up call was harsh. The mine started operations in October 2008 and the first problems started appearing the next summer. Tourist businesses around the mine complained that the mine reeked of rotten egg, repelling customers. While the company was still struggling against the awkward smell, much worse problems began to surface. The waste-water pool started leaking for the first time in 2008. The next leak was detected in 2010. The lakes next to the mine turned salty. Measurements near the mine showed concentrations of cadmium and nickel far exceeding the official safety limits. And in March of this year, a mine worker failed to use protective gear and died of breathing hydrogen sulphide, the source of the "rotten egg" smell.

Everybody knew about this and yet the supervising authority, Kainuu Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment did nothing to the unbelievable irresponsible mining company. Now they say they couldn’t because they never had the resources or the skills to do it. Finally, on Sunday the situation got totally out of control. All the waste in the mine site ends up in huge waste-water pools containing heavy metals, dangerous chemicals and uranium. The bottom of this pool ripped and the heavily contaminated water started spewing out at a rate of thousands of cubic meters every hour. Now the dream has turned into a total nightmare. Greenpeace activists are taking samples of the leaking wastewater. So does the Finnish Nuclear Safety Authority and the Finnish Environment Institute. Nobody can tell yet exactly how bad the situation is. All we know is that it is bad. Contaminated water has flowed already many kilometres downstream. Nearby creeks and lakes are contaminated by toxic nickel.

The beautiful lakes, rivers and creeks – clean freshwater - are the most valuable asset Finns have. You wouldn’t think that we would let somebody poison them. But it happened. The people downstream feel themselves totally powerless, and fear their own drinking water. Now it is up to us to stop the mine and get the Finnish administrators to tell us how they intend to guarantee that this will not happen again. And you, my dear readers, please, take a lesson: be alert when somebody says there's big money to be made exploiting nature. Be prepared to fight. Make sure that your authorities fulfil their real duty and defend our future. These are usually hard fights but they are essential. You will avoid the nightmares we're experiencing now in Talvivaara.


Finland's Fennovoima may tap reactor supplier for investment

Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima may ask the potential supplier of its planned reactor to also invest in the project as it strives to keep the programme on track following the withdrawal of its biggest backer. Fennovoima is due to choose next year between potential suppliers Areva SA or Toshiba Corp to build its planned reactor in Pyhajoki, northern Finland, the first reactor site announced after the disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Chief Executive Juha Nurmi said either of those could also become an investor, allowing it to move forward with a plan which is important in Finland's drive towards greater energy self sufficiency.

"If you look at a lot of the projects of this scale, in many projects, the ... suppliers have been involved to some extent," Nurmi told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. He cited an investment by Japan's Hitachi Ltd in British nuclear project Horizon when it took over from E.ON AG and RWE. Toshiba declined to comment and Areva was not immediately available for comment.

Nurmi was appointed CEO on October 25, shortly after E.ON, which was its biggest single shareholder with a 34 percent stake, said it would withdraw from Finland. E.ON's exit raised doubts over the future of Pyhajoki, which is aimed at providing cheap energy to shareholders such as stainless steel maker Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE), retailer Kesko and subsidiaries of Swedish metals firm Boliden. Nurmi declined to elaborate on the possibility of investment from Areva or Toshiba. He said other deals were also possible and that talks were being held with potential investors, adding that existing owners could also increase their stake. He said he was confident Fennovoima could proceed with the project, originally estimated to cost between 4 billion Euros ($5.1 billion) and 6 billion.

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