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INDONESIA: Police and border guard stop Greenpeace demonstration near Porvoo refinery

Helsingin Sanomat
November 26th, 2007

Police put a stop to a demonstration by Greenpeace activists at sea off Porvoo Sunday evening by forcing boats used by the environmental organisation back to shore. Helping the police were vessels of the Guard. A total of 33 activists from different countries were detained in the operation.

According to Greenpeace, five of its boats went to sea to confront a vessel of Neste Oil, which was bringing a load of 10,000 tonnes of palm oil for use as raw material for biological diesel fuel to be produced at the Neste refinery in Porvoo.

The situation in Porvoo came to a head in the evening, when police and the border guard confronted the Greenpeace demonstrators. In addition to the operation at sea, guards in front of the bio-diesel installation at the Kilpilahti refinery prevented outsiders from entering the area.
Police blocked the Greenpeace action because the organisation had announced that it "planned to resist legal business activities of Neste", said Jussi Kiiski of the Porvoo police.

Lauri Myllyvirta, leader of the Greenpeace operation, said in Porvoo on Sunday evening that those who were detained had reported that police had used pepper spray against them at sea and in the dark. Myllyvirta himself was directing the activities from shore.

On Monday Greenpeace said that it would file an official complaint about the use of pepper spray against the demonstrators in the open sea. Matti Liimatainen of Finnish Greenpeace called the use of the spray dangerous and unnecessary: he said that the boats were already returning to shore at the time.

Police stopped the last of the Greenpeace boats before 8:00 PM Sunday. People were taken by to holding facilities of the Porvoo police. They were interviewed in the evening.

The actual preliminary investigation and interrogations begin on Monday. More than 30 Finnish, German, Swedish, and Danish activists were held by the police.
Greenpeace has launched a worldwide campaign against the use of palm oil as a raw material for bio-diesel, which is marketed as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel.

Greenpeace says that widespread use of palm oil advances the destruction of rain forests in Southeast Asia; increasing amounts of forest are cleared away to make room for oil palm plantations. Decisions to use palm oil as a source of bio-diesel have already been cancelled in Sweden. Production of palm oil is expected to double by 2030.

Neste Oil says that palm oil from Malaysia is currently the most easily available raw material for bio-diesel fuel. Neste also says that it is looking into the possibilities to use other raw materials than palm oil, such as by-products from tree felling, and oil plants that cannot be used for food production.
Neste admits that "Unregulated and uncertified" growth in the cultivation of oil palms can cause destruction of rain forests. For this reason the company insists that principles of sustainable development must be observed in the acquisition of palm oil.

Neste Oil says that using palm oil can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Neste also says that it gets its palm oil from plantations whose operations are monitored, and the origin of the oil is followed closely.

According to Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace has acquired Neste documents which indicate that the certification system used by Neste does not work.

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