decades, plans have been in the works to harness Valkehinen, or Valkeakoski,
a rapids lying some 10 km northeast of Paanajärvi.
The original plans were drawn up in the Soviet Era as part of
the centrally planned economy. The collapse of the Soviet Union
made it uncertain whether the project could be carried out in accordance
with the original schedule, because the rapid transition to a market
economy had forced the state to revise its earlier budgetary structure
and practices. A number of the offices and departments which were
to take part in building the power plant no longer exist. Construction
has begun on the power plant, however, because the national administration
has demanded that the Republic of Karelia be able to satisfy its
energy needs, and plans for a nuclear power station in the Republic
have fallen through.
The Republic of Karelia has not been able to guarantee funding
for construction at the Valkeakoski site; yet, according to plan,
large tracts of forest that would be submerged are now being felled
to bring in foreign exchange.
Construction is still in its earliest stages and work has stopped
for all practical purposes. Of the three enterprises engaged in
excavation and earthmoving at the site, two have ceased operation
for lack of funds and the third has been unable to pay its employees
still flows free. No work has begun on the dam. A channel several
hundred meters long has been dug parallel to the river, the end
of this channel being the planned location of the power plant. At
that site, a hill of sand has been flattened and a pit dug.
In practice, nothing else has been done at the construction site.
It is not too late to stop construction of the power plant, because
nothing has been built as yet. It is urgent, however, to stop the
clear-felling of the forests that would be inundated by the proposed
reservoir and to effect a transition to measures that allow for
regeneration of the forests.
Alternative sources of energy can be found to render the power
plant unnecessary. One is peat, which is abundant in the area. Small-scale
power plants that burn wood chips would also be a very practicable
option in Karelia, and would promote employment.
Completion of the hydroelectric power plant would still require
- Construction of a dam on the Kemijoki River at the rapids
- Construction of the power plant building
- Purchase and installation of the turbines and other machinery
- Construction of power lines
- Completion of the new channel and removal of a 9-meter layer of
peat in it before construction.
Construction of a causeway with the necessary bridges for the Paanajärvi
- Construction of a six-kilometer dam along the southern edge of
the reservoir to prevent water escaping into the Ohtajoki River
- Construction of a coffer dam and the excavation of a two-kilometer
channel from below the Kuittijärvi lakes to the Kemijoki River to
avoid inundation of the village of Jyskyjärvi (population 1,000)
or part of it.
- Construction of housing for over 100 residents of Paanajärvi
- Felling of all of the forest in the reservoir area.
Clearly, these measures would involve years of intensive work and
such vast financial resources that the Republic of Karelia could
not possibly complete the project. Indeed, the task would be overwhelming
even if the Russian economy were to improve considerably in the
near future - an unlikely prospect.
Valkeakoski Power Plant -Project
Paanajärvi, a site of WMW
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