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Wednesday's papers: Earthquakes in Helsinki, school air conditioning dispute, Immigration Service facelift

Newspapers report on a geothermal power plant, experts disagreeing about air quality and Immigration Service Migri changing its look.

"Here is Finland's deepest hole", a sign at the ST1 Deep Heat construction site declares. Image: Elise Tykkyläinen / Yle

Drilling and geothermal experiments have caused magnitude 1.7—1.9 earthquakes in Southern Finland, prompting seismologists to reach out to their international colleagues.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) Wednesday that energy company ST1 Deep Heat has drilled a hole 6.4 km deep into the earth in order to establish Finland's first zero-emission geothermal power plant.

The quakes may be small compared to those occurring on fault lines across the world, but experts warn that the consequences of uncontrolled earthquakes could cause structural damage to Finnish buildings not constructed to withstand tremors.

The shaking — not related to Tuesday's trembling in Valkeakoski — is caused by tension created by high-pressure water that was pumped into the ground last summer. The water is instrumental in tapping the subterranean heat in facilities on the surface.

HS writes that researchers at the Seismological Institute of the University of Helsinki met with Swiss scientists earlier in February to discuss how geothermal power is accessed safely in Switzerland. The institute needs all the help it can get, as the Ministry of the Environment has ordered a report on earthquake risk management.

"When we drill down this deep, there is no telling what can happen," says Ministry construction integrity expert Teppo Lehtinen. "We need to update our know-how to prevent potential accidents."

Even small earthquakes produce lots of noise and tremors in Finland due to its dense bedrock. The permits acquired by ST1 Deep Heat did not include any earthquake-related provisions.

"We have to figure out how to control the quakes so they don't get too strong, or if it's even possible to control them," the paper quotes Helsinki University geology department head Annakaisa Korja.

The inauguration of the ST1 Deep Heat plant is planned for spring 2020.

Builders say savings endanger school air quality

Meanwhile in the city of Tampere a municipal move to temporarily cut off air conditioning in local schools has been met with dismay from construction companies.

Regional daily Aamulehti writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the multi-municipal working group, composed of unspecified "experts" and the Indoor Air Association, recommends that schools in the region and eventually the country shut off their air conditioning when the property is not in use to accrue savings.

The association's executive director, Mervi Ahola, previously told AL that she wants to upend the "myth" that hazardous mould problems in Finnish schools stem from air conditioning regulation. However, the construction sector says that view is wrong.

"In cases of mould and bad air quality, the cause is usually faulty ventilation," says CEO Juha Metsälä from construction company Pohjola Rakennus Oy. "No way can you say that all properties in Finland could just switch off air conditioning for the night; that would cause massive problems."

Metsälä says in AL that buildings should be used as they have been designed to work, and that regulating the air conditioning of different kinds of buildings requires a sharp eye.

"We need to monitor and regulate the ventilation based on the readings, not by staring at a clock or counting savings. People who want to save money by turning down the air conditioning are not construction experts."

Migri updates logo

The previous red logo depicting an outstretched bird's wing was switched out for a blue-coloured abstract geometric shape, which communications director Klaus Kaartinen says also depicts a wing, or something "birdlike".

"We're phasing out the old logo on our documents over the course of a year. We won't waste paper because of a symbol," he said in IS.

Kaartinen says the change is meant to reflect the fact that Migri is no longer the same institution it was when the earlier wing logo was designed. The Immigration Service is three times larger than it was then, due partly to reception centres falling under its purview.

Kaartinen describes the symbolism in detail.

"It doesn't have to be a migratory bird, it can be a tent, a refuge, a document, or anything at all. The sharp edges represent order and efficiency. The colour is calming, and also quite Finnish."