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Argentina, Uruguay tussle over pulp mill

Argentine and Uruguayan Foreign Ministries clash

The UPM pulp mill at the mouth of the River Uruguay in the Uruguayan town of Fray Bentos was the centre of a fresh political storm yesterday as both the Argentine and Uruguayan Foreign Ministries released combative statements couched in diplomatic prose.

The row was caused by a report researched by Argentina into the environmental damage caused by the pulp mill in the surrounding areas. Following a request by the Gualeguaychú Citizens Environmental Assembly, an Argentine judge filed a legal claim against the Uruguayan government.

The Uruguayan government was quick to respond, through newspaper La República, linked to President José Mujica.

The daily yesterday published a statement from the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry in which it insisted that “Uruguay has presented no obstacles and offers its full consent to the complete and immediate release of results of tests conducted by international laboratories on the Orion mill owned by UPM and the mouth of the River Uruguay.”

In the text, the Foreign Ministry calls on both parties to “urgently reach a solution on the issue,” recognizing the publication of the report as “an unavoidable step for the appropriate monitoring of the conditions.” However, the statement also insists on the willingness of the Argentine delegation in order to achieve the report’s publication.

The Argentine delegation to the River Uruguay Administrative Committee (CARU) yesterday celebrated “the decision by the Uruguayan delegation to accept the revelation of the results” of scientific monitoring conducted by Argentina since October, 2010, on the UPM pulp mill, according to the Argentine Foreign Ministry.

“The Argentine delegation states its intention to meet with its Uruguayan counterparts to agree on how the results should be published,” said the press release, which also highlighted that “these monitoring and control activities were conducted despite the obstacles and barriers implemented by the company.”

The 10-page report, published yesterday as part of the press release, covers the period up until the present day and focuses on “excess production levels” in the mill.

The statement begins with a sentence referring to “the inability to provide information by the CARU regarding UPM monitoring due to disagreements within the committee about the regulations on pollution produced by the company,” also emphasizing the “lack of information” and “permanent obstruction by Uruguay on monitoring the mill.”

— Herald with Telam, La República

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