A photo from the web side: http://koivu.oulu.fi/tati/JR/Kaukok/Vuotos/Vuotos.html

NextThe next map

The decision in 1982 by the Finnish government not to construct the Vuotos-reservoir was well founded (see the enclosed statement of the ministry of interior). The "YES"decision of 1992 was, however, without any justification, immoral, a political decision. Consider the negative impact of the project on the national economy and the environment, shown by various studies.

In Pelkosenniemi the people who have opposed the reservoir for thirty years have got along and made a living in the region although burdened by the threat of the reservoir. A merciless machinery weighs down on them. These people became the victims when the decision of 1982 was not made into a law.

See map showing the unharnessed and valuable rivers: the Ounasjoki and the upper parts of the Kemijoki, the only free rivers in the large rainfall area of the Kemijoki covering 75 per cent of the area of Lapland. A limit for harnessing has been reached, enough sacrifices have been made for energy production. There are plans to build the both unharnessed rivers right to the end.

Only two rivers of the River Kemijoki, the Ounasjoki and the upper parts of Kemijoki, remains unharnessed.  NextThe next map

The population of Pelkosenniemi: 2751 in 1962, 1569 in 1982 after which a slight growth for two or three years. The "NO"-decision of 1982 returned people's belief in life again. After a steady decrease the population reached under 1400 this year. The trend has been considerably worse compared to other communes with the same social and economic structure.

The high officials of Pelkosenniemi have always been in the "PRO"-party exerting a lot of power at the local level. All small scale projects have been effectively frozen, the Vuotos-project being the only goal. For instance the funds for forest regeneration were refused, modernizing cowsheds, building new buildings starting as early as the 1960's -the result being the gradual loss of population in the region.

The 1982 "NO"-decision started an economic revival project which was, however, carried out hastily and giving emphasis to intense forest management. According to official reports the project reached its goals.

Immediately the "PRO"-party started working against the decision, which resulted in arguments and controversy and affected social relations (even between family members) very negatively mostly in Pelkosenniemi but also in the neighbouring communities. Dividae et impera, the only jobs worth keeping alive are the jobs of the Kemijoki company (at the moment this seems to be the main argument of the "PRO-party).

The project is a senseless one offered with misleading information: there is talk of thousands of jobs, an Eldorado. The greater the lie, the greater the truth - the reservoir is described as "a historical necessity". The whole of the Kemijoki is at stake, it is being broken down little by little. In the name of the interests of Lapland also Finland's greatest natural assests are being destroyed: unpolluted nature, the unharnessed rivers, the wilderness etc.

Paradoxically the Vuotos-area is the best area in Pelkosenniemi where almost all the land of c. 500 farms used to lie. Almost 40 per cent of wood production (14000 k-m3/a year), suitable terrain for reindeer herding, the unique Kemi Islands used as pasture, berry picking (especially cloudberries). The area is popular among nature lovers: boating on the river, fishing, hunting, bird watching etc. A paradox: the Kemijoki company takes credit for buying out the farmers in the area - 80-90 per cent of land is owned by the company even before the project has been dealt with by the water court. The result: migration away from the area.

It is shocking to have to prove the value of a great, unharnessed river. The Vuotos area would be drowned just to keep the engineers of the power company employed in planning and constructing a project whose emissions into the air, soil and water would surpass those allowed for any factory or power plant. The fresh, unpolluted water of the upper Kemijoki would be mixed in the reservoir with marsh turf or sod etc. This would spoil the water downstream as far as the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia and the territorial waters of Sweden. The present purifying effect would disappear and a huge flow of nutrients would enter the river ( e.g. phosphorus 170 kg/24 hours). The figures offered by the power company about electricity production, emissions, environmental impact, employment etc. have been questioned with good reason.

The area drowned by the reservoir would be 23800 hectares compared to a power plant, for instance, 2 hectares, ratio 10000/1.

The Kemijoki company would have plenty to do in improving the condition of the river, in raising the regulating capacity of the existing reservoirs by dredging, in replacing wornout machinery and getting new machinery in the existing power stations, in developing wind power, in the utilization of the geothermal energy of the basins etc.

When studying the studies made about the reservoir I have come across a strange thing: the figures given by the official organizations such as the organization of the communes of Lapland, the town of Kemijärvi or the Kemijoki company are all correct however much they differ from each other. The purpose for which the figures are used determines which figures are chosen. Consider the figures about the potential jobs created which range from 100 to 1000 jobs for ten years - these figures have been given by the "PRO"-party... Also these figures are dependent on the permission of the water court to go ahead with the preliminary work - a permission which may never be given - I don't believe the water court could be so terrible !

There is an attempt to undermine all critical scientific research done so far, not to say anything about common sense and the local people's everyday experience. The Kemijoki company even tries to negate the conclusions made by top researchers from Oulu University about the unique environmental value of the Vuotos-area.

A beautiful vision, an illusion, has been created about the future multipurpose use and recreational facilities offered by the reservoir. At the same time the project is described as one which requires the commitment of individuals, communities and the Finnish state. By a conservative estimate the investments would sop up an extra billon marks of tax-payers' money and there would be no guarantee of the results.

If a fraction of the sum mentioned above were invested in the area now there would be no doubt about the opportunies created for forestry, fishing and recreational use.

The Vuotos project is without any judicial, economic or ecological basis. The process which is going on in the water court just contributes to the slow death of the area. A "NO"-decision has to be made as soon as possible and made into a law. Also all the land owned by the Kemijoki company must be taken over by the Finnish state. After that nature reserves will be established, land for economic activity will be obtained by right of redemption and efforts will be made to develop the economy of the area.


The Vuotos-project can be considered unprofitable from the point of view of the national economy, disadvantageous for the demographic structure of the local communities, competing for financing with other projects which could bring more permanent relief for unemployment, destroying natural and environmental values, causing difficulties for fishing and reindeer herding and primary production. Therefore it is a project which should not be carried out.

N.B. The decision was made in 1982 when environmental values were not given the emphasis they get now. Start

More information:

MEP: Heidi Hautala