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Valkeakoski Power Plant -Project

Valkeakoski Power Plant -Project
Paanajärvi, a site of WMW
What to see
Audio sample

For 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 regularly.

Valkeakoski 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 the following:

- 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 settlement
- Construction of a six-kilometer dam along the southern edge of the reservoir to prevent water escaping into the Ohtajoki River water course.
- 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
What to see
Audio sample