Swedish nuke operator maligns whistleblower

from 23 August 2006

(by Reinhard Wolff and Diet Simon)

The government-owned company that runs the Swedish nuclear power station that almost melted down a month ago has been trying to malign the man who blew the whistle.

To play down the gravity of the mishap in the Forsmark nuke 150 kilometres north of the capital, Stockholm, on 25 July, the company fed the media lies, wrote Reinhard Wolff in the German leftwing daily, Tageszeitung (taz).

“This was revealed for example by journalists of the liberal regional newspaper, Upsala Nya Tidning,” wrote Wolff.

He went on:

“Specifically this involves an attorney of the Vattenfall subsidiary and nuke operator Forsmark-Kraftgrupp. After the mishap he is said to have offered details to several newsrooms. The information he gave proved to be wrong.

“The attorney had also tried to discredit Lars-Olov Höglund. The former reactor design chief had explained that the Swedish nuke had missed a worst assumable accident by only minutes.

“The attorney spread details about Lars-Olov Höglund’s life that called into question his capacity to judge. It was claimed, for example, that he was never the chief designer of Vattenfall Forsmark and certainly no safety expert.

“Forsmark-Vattenfall confirmed in a weekend statement that there had been such media contacts. But the company claimed it had only provided wrong information to one other paper in addition to the Upsala Nya Tidning.

“The attorney in question expressed his regret to the UNT: ‘Should the information prove to be wrong, it is of course not good that we passed it on to the media.’

“Many Swedish papers, the majority of which favour nuclear power production, had only too gladly swallowed the doubts cast on Höglund’s competence and reported that things weren’t as bad as the expert had insisted.”

Wolff explains that four weeks from a Swedish election, the exit from nuclear power is practically no issue. It appeared that most Swedes were satisfied that in the end “nothing really happened” and they still trusted the safety of Swedish nukes.

“To the irritation of many of its members, even the green "Miljöpartiet" (Environment Party) hasn’t really taken the issue on board. On its website the report about Forsmark and nuclear safety takes eighth place, after issues like housing policy and the closure of some branch railway lines.

“It appears that the greens have problems integrating Forsmark in their election agenda, which has long been set. And after the election they want to govern for the first time in coalition with the Social Democrats. In that context, demands to speed up the nuclear exit could be an irritant.”

To read Wolff’s original story in German go to http://www.taz.de/pt/2006/08/22/a0101.1/text.

Meanwhile in Germany nuclear opponents have won another court case against the police for illegal detention.

During a transport of nuclear waste to a storage hall in Gorleben in November 2001 a woman was held for more than 12 hours without being charged with anything.

She was in a group of 73 demonstrators seized in a 70 km long and 100 metre wide no-go zone declared by police along a railway line.

During the detention the woman had neither support from an attorney nor was she told her rights. The mandatory interview by a judge did not happen, either.

A police leader told the trial no tools were found on the demonstrators that might have been used to interfere with the rails. Another police witness said there was nothing to indicate that the people seized were heading for the tracks.

The woman judge ruled that there was nothing to indicate that the complainant intended to carry out any punishable offence in connection with the transport.

The Gorleben resistance group, Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow Dannenberg (BI), commented that the case yet again demonstrated that people were robbed of their basic rights and criminalised through gigantic police deployments and demonstration bans to facilitate nuclear power.

The group predicts “unrelenting, colourful and creative resistance” for the next waste transport in November.

At this point I, Diet Simon, feel the need to comment.

Point 1: The events of this case happened in November 2001 – that’s almost five years ago, and there has been a lot of police brutality in connection with Gorleben transports in that time. So I’m reminded of Hamlet’s complaint about “the law's delay, the insolence of office”.

Point 2: The courts, although ruling almost always in favour of anti-nuclear demonstrators, have never punished any police personnel for breaking the law.

If I park my car wrong, I get punished. If police assigned to a Gorleben transport lock someone up illegally for 12 hours they have nothing to fear, except being told by a court five years later that they did wrong – tut tut, naughty naughty!

The nuclear opponents need to try to sue for punishment of offending police and for police personnel to be forced to wear visible numbers, which they don’t in Germany.

Identifiable and punishable police may decide not to do things they can now do with impunity.

Mind you, the Gorleben folks have told me that since the first judgements in demonstrators’ favour have been coming through, police behaviour has improved a little.

On this story contact Francis Althoff, press spokesman of the Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow Dannenberg, #49 5843 986789. Drawehner Str. 3 29439 Lüchow Tel: 05841-4684 Fax: 3197 bi-presse@t-online.de

Another weird case is due to be heard in Lüneburg on 13 September. A woman is to be charged with sitting in the crown of a tree.

A supporter writes that she endangered nobody and nothing, threw nothing, shouted nothing, insulted no one; she caused no damage whatsoever to the tree, did not crick the tiniest twig, didn’t inflict the slightest injury on the bark.

“This is just about her being up the tree. That is supposed to amount to three breaches of public order. The court files for this ‘grave’ case already amount to 97 pages plus more than an hour of video recording and a photo album of a peaceful woman in the crown of a tree. All of this not compiled by the public order authority, but by the special criminal-police unit for Castor transports.”

Processed on: 23.08.2006/ad

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