Information for the foreign visitors to the Swedish nuclear power plants

The recent visits to the nuclear power plants at Forsmark and Ringhals and the surrounding nature, mainly by foreign citizens, raises a few concerns. Many Swedes are of course charmed by the sudden increase in tourism to the northern parts of Uppland and Halland counties, October is not the most attractive season. There are, however, some useful information that would be good for any foreign visitor to be aware of, and we will therefore give a bit of advice, should this increased level of tourism continue.

The beautiful nature near the Forsmark nuclear power plant

In Sweden we have something called "Allemansrätten" (usually translated as "Right of public access" or "Everyman's right"). Allemansrätten gives you the right to access of our nature, not only at national parks and other dedicated areas. In principle you may go anywhere you like all over Sweden; our forests, pastureland, mountains, lakes and rivers are all available for you to enjoy, Swede or foreigner alike. But there's more to it. You are also allowed to pick flowers, berries and mushrooms for your enjoyment, and you may raise a tent almost anywhere for a night or two without asking for permission.

The Allemansrätt gives you the right to pick berries anywhere in Sweden, as long as you stay outside the fence of nuclear power plants

This wonderful freedom to roam comes with a responsibility to take care of the nature that we can access. For short, it can be summarized with the phrase ”Don’t disturb – don’t destroy”. Furthermore, it does not give you the right to access fenced industrial areas, and in particular it does not give you the right to enter a protected property, so called skyddsobjekt. Nuclear power plants fall under the category skyddsobjekt, and entering the area of a skyddsobjekt without permission is a legal offence, something that many of you will experience rather soon. Therefore, while hiking in the Swedish nature, it is highly unsuitable to bring a ladder for passing fences into a skyddsobjekt or other industrial area. Likewise, cutting holes in the fence of such areas is not part of Allemansrätten, and recreational bicycling is much better done elsewhere. Therefore we kindly ask you to respect these rules the next time you want to enjoy the nature of Sweden.

When you see a sign like this one you should turn around, not use your bolt cutter.

If you really want to visit a Swedish nuclear power plant and learn more about what it is all about, why not give them a call first? In fact, you can book guided tours at all nuclear power plants in Sweden, including the shut down plant at Barsebäck (where you may see even more details from the inside). By the way, it is for free, you just have to be 14 years old or more. You are also welcome to visit the final repository for low and medium level short-lived waste (SFR) outside of Forsmark, and the intermediate storage facility of nuclear fuel (CLAB) in Oskarshamn. To see all the used nuclear fuel with just a couple of meters of water in between is really an educational experience. On the following links you will find contact details:

 

Now we would like you to do us a favour. As far as we understand, there were some Swedish friends of yours that joined you on your recent excursions to Forsmark and Ringhals. We kindly ask you to inform them about what you have learnt above regarding what one can do and can not do within the limits of Allemansrätten. Also, please inform them about how to access the nuclear power plants the regular way, they will be impressed that you seem to know so much more about Sweden than they do.

Of course, we could write this in Swedish as well and hope that they would understand it, but after reading their recent "reports" on nuclear power safety issues we suspect that they have serious difficulties with reading comprehension. The way they interpret the conclusions from the stress tests are a bit simplified, to say the least. Some of their leaders seem to think that there exist other energy sources that are 100% safe, and they repeatedly spread fear about nuclear accidents without explaining what the health consequences would be of a nuclear meltdown. Furthermore, they consider people without education in natural sciences to be experts on nuclear power related issues, and they claim that people working in the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority are not to be trusted because they have actual experience with nuclear power plants. With this attitude we doubt that they would listen to anything that we say. Therefore, it is much better if they hear it from you, their friends that they trust.

There is one more thing that we would like to ask of you. We understand that several of you come from Germany, a country that still depends on coal power and is even increasing its dependency on coal in order to phase out nuclear power first. Meanwhile you brag about the huge investments in renewables. These investments are indeed impressive, but they cannot hide the fact that you are at the same time building new coal power plants. Besides air pollution that kills thousands of people every year, these plants are still spreading mercury and other nasty chemicals (and radioactivity which you seem to fear so much), polluting the fish and plants in many of our inland lakes.

Could you please explain to us why it is so important for you to come all the way from Germany and face legal charges for trespassing into the outer areas of our nuclear power plants, with exaggerated claims of doom if there is a very serious accident? Wouldn't it be better to focus on closing the coal plants in your country first, plants that kill people every day when they function according to the way they were designed to work? Somehow we got the impression that the organization that you all belong to cares for the environment and for people's health, but we must have been mistaken on this issue. Could you please explain for us?

Finally, we would like to welcome you all  back to Sweden in order to enjoy our nature. And do take the chance to visit our nuclear power plants, on regular visits that is.

Love from the NPYP team