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Friday's papers: President calls EU weak, strike shuts kitchens, nuclear plant fuel line leak

Finnish dailies run stories on President Niinistö's disappointment with the EU, next week's anti-government strike and a fuel assembly leaking at Olkiluoto 1.

Ydinpolttoainesauvaa upotetaan reaktoriin.
Nuclear power plant reactors such as this one from Germany need their fuel bundles replaced from time to time. Image: Armin Weigel / AOP

On Friday morning President Sauli Niinistö came clean in an exclusive interview about his disappointment with the European Union, which the president says has not properly brought its power to bear on world issues.

Niinistö said in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus that the EU is not sitting at the same tables with the rest of the world powers.

"We have seen how China, the USA and Russia are currently running this planet," he said in MT. "If there is a crisis somewhere in the world, it is these three countries in different combinations that seem to be resolving them. The EU has fallen back."

The EU, the president said in the paper, has been living in a millennial spirit that sees the world as a "beautiful" place, with the union working to advance positive change.

"There are great goals in play, but in order to do good things the union must be strong. There is evil in the world and being included in the conversation and being a leader requires strength, which is what the EU needs to develop."

Niinistö noted that he feels the EU has woken up to the need to maintain its own security, which he calls a good thing.

Speaking more generally on Finnish society and identity, Niinistö said that being wide open to influences makes a country vulnerable.

"We have a strong Finnish identity and we have learned to be suspicious. That is important."

The president's stance on Finland's role in combating climate change is also made clear in the interview.

"Humanity is in a hurry to secure itself. Finland must be involved in fighting global warming, but also work to demand other countries with more pollution and influence join that fight."

JHL: "Everyone will be fine during strike"

The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) has urged its members to strike on 22-23 October, impacting a number of important services such as food delivery, cleaning, and maintenance.

Tabloid Iltalehti writes that more than 10,000 workers will strike for one day. One of the sectors affected will be industrial kitchens that deliver food to schools, daycare centres, addition rehabilitation centres and elder care facilities.

JHL chair Päivi Niemi-Laine is adamant that people's wellbeing will be guaranteed during the industrial action.

"Kids in schools and daycares as well as residents in elder care facilities will be perfectly fine," she said in IL. "The leaders who are at the forefront of this action will make sure that services continue to work. Employers may also reach out to emergency manpower."

Niemi-Laine added in the paper that JHL has made a decision on future measures, as well, and that the organisation has performed "pretty light action" so far. She does not go into what these coming acts might be, but that JHL will bring out new methods if the government does not rescind its labour law proposal.

"We have said that the table must be completely clean if we are to sit back down with the government," Niemi-Laine said.

Fuel line leakage "not dangerous" at OL1

Finally daily Turun Sanomat reports on a leak that was discovered in a fuel bundle at the nuclear reactor of the Olkiluoto 1 plant in July. Compliance officer Niko Mononen from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) says that the nuclear power company TVO has monitored the small leak closely and found that it posed no nuclear safety risk.

A dripping fuel bundle is not entirely uncommon at OL1, with one such assembly leaking about once a year.

"So that's one every other year for each plant unit. But lately there have been more of these leaks springing up," Mononen said in TS, adding that "these are unconnected cases."

Several leaks were discovered in the power plant in 2016, and in October last year a unit had to be shut down because of seepage.

STUK and TVO said the problems were likely caused by faults in the fuel itself, in small component parts, or in the fuel rods.

"We have taken measures to ensure that damages of this kind do not reoccur," Mononen said.

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