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It is official: Uruguay’s UPM-Botnia pulp mill does not contaminate, never has

Monday, February 13th 2012 - 06:01 UTC
Full article 11 comments
Minister Luis Almagro made the announcement before the Uruguayan parliament Minister Luis Almagro made the announcement before the Uruguayan parliament

A huge pulp mill, UPM, which has been at the heart of a several years’ controversy between Uruguay and Argentina, does not contaminate revealed Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro before the Uruguayan parliament.

“The results of the joint monitoring will say the obvious: UPM does not contaminate, as was established in the ruling from The Hague International Court of Justice”, said Almagro during a long presentation on relations with Argentina before the Parliament Standing Committee where he was summoned to explain the latest trade restrictions imposed by the government of President Cristina Fernandez.

Argentina has systematically denied to release the four reports from international labs, arguing that is disagrees with the criteria to measure and assess the temperature of the effluents from the UPM (former Botnia) pulp mill, a huge undertaking for Uruguay but which Argentina has questioned from the very start.

“It is not true that the (Uruguayan) government ignores the results of the joint environmental monitoring of the plant”, said Almagro replying to a lawmaker who asked for the reports last November but never received a reply. The four reports are from overseas labs to double check the results from a joint monitoring agreed with Argentina.

“Uruguay’s Environment Office has been checking the functioning of the pulp mill plant since its very beginning, and they were confirmed overseas saying the UPM complex does not contaminate”, underlined Almagro.

On 28 July 2010 Presidents Jose Mujica and Cristina Fernandez agreed to set up a Bi-national Scientific Committee for the “joint monitoring of the UPM-Botnia plant” as well as of the urban centres which empty their effluents into the River Uruguay that also acts as a natural border between the neighbouring countries and the use of its waters is jointly managed since 1975.

So far nine tests have been made, the last of which in late January, and as the previous ones measured the effluents unloaded by UPM into the River Uruguay, as well as on the opposite side in Argentina where the Gualeguaychú River joins the River Uruguay.

The Uruguayan Environment Office on several occasions has reported that effectively the UPM monitoring has proved “normal” and these are the same samples which the Bi-national Joint Scientific Committee has sent to Canada for double checking and which the Administrative Committee of the River Uruguay, CARU, refuses to make public or has not released.

When Uruguay approved the Finland financed Botnia project eight years ago, Argentina objected saying it had not been consulted on the use of the River Uruguay waters and furthermore the pulp mill would contaminate.

The long dispute, which included blocking a bi-national bridge for years, was finally solved at the International Court of Justice which delivered a balanced ruling saying Uruguay should have consulted more with Argentine previously, but there was no evidence of possible pollution.

Finally in 2010 a bilateral agreement was reached with the joint monitoring scheme and Argentine scientists were allowed inside the pulp mill to take samples of effluents. However when the samples showed effectively that there was no pollution, Argentine vetoed the release of the results by CARU.

Furthermore the samples from the Argentine coast next to the city of Gualeguaychú show strong contamination. The issue is politically highly sensitive for Argentina since during the long years of conflict the government encouraged Gualeguaychú to become the hard core resistance to the whole pulp mill project on the Uruguayan coast.
 

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  • Pvdv

    just another proof of how incomptent Argentine politicians are...
    that country is going really downhill. Nobody believes that country anymore..apart from some local ignorants offcourse.. There are very few investments, a lot of complaints of commercial injustice, mercosur is a joke, well CFK, you will be the Queen that will wreck the ship in a glorious incometent way... its just a matter of time that will happen... they can postpone it a bit by those non automatic import licences...but thats a matter of time all imports are subsitituted with more expensive argentine products and then.. its over and out as there is nothing to steal or substitute anymore : pension funds, imports, oil, gas, all will be nationalised and NO investors will be there to blame... offcourse, that will be the blame : foreign investors... She might be big in Argentina but CFK woulnd not even get a an assistent job in EU politics, its amazing how incompetent people can become president in certain countries. Its says more about the civilians of that country then something else.

    Feb 13th, 2012 - 10:25 am 0
  • digo_yo

    I completely agree with the above comment. This is yet another example of how blatantly incompetent Argentinians can be -both the government and those who elect them. This must be one of most ignorant people when it comes to decide what is good for their own country. But then... one must not forget the innate arrogance of the typical Argentinian. Especially in regards to matters concerning Uruguay, a country that they have always looked upon as a “province”, rather than as a sovereign nation whose example they would do well to follow.

    Feb 13th, 2012 - 03:18 pm 0
  • Idlehands

    I thought the Argentines wanted it to be highly polluting so they had something else to complain about.

    Feb 13th, 2012 - 04:47 pm 0
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