December 5, 2013
Ex-Botnia conflictWednesday, September 4, 2013
Urribarri demands mill information from Uruguay
The bilateral conflict between Argentina and Uruguay over the UPM paper mill, formerly known as Botnia, on the Uruguayan side of the Uruguay River is once again leading to tension between the two neighbours amid reports that the plant’s Finnish owners plan to increase production from 1.1 to 1.3 million tons of cellulose paste per year.
Entre Ríos Governor Sergio Urribarri yesterday raised questions about the reported planned increase, saying he had “requested clarification from the (Uruguay) government through the Foreign Ministry over the versions and statements from officials regarding the construction of a new plant and an expansion of UPM’s production limit.”
The request came a day after the Uruguayan National Environment Directorate (Dinama) released a report on water samples in the surrounding area of the paper mill in the city of Fray Bentos, showing pollution in the river was within allowed limits.
Horacio Melo, the Argentine delegate in the binational River Uruguay Administrator Committee (CARU), yesterday said it “would be shameful” for Uruguay to unilaterally allow an increase in production at the paper mill, noting that the neighbouring country would “once again be burying the statute that rules on the operations of the Uruguay River.”
On Monday, former Uruguayan vice-president Luis Hierro, Uruguay’s representative in CARU, said that Dinama’s studies showed identical results to those by CARU, and that the latter institution was only prevented from publishing the data due to the lack of an agreement between the members of the binational committee.
Although he announced UPM’s request at the Council of the Americas summit of August 16, Uruguayan President José Mujica has refused to comment further on the plans.
The mill’s operations “have been placed under the continuing surveillance of CARU and the Scientific Committee, so the plant itself or Uruguayan authorities cannot authorize or implement changes unilaterally,” the Argentine CARU delegation added, with Melo arguing such actions “would be shameful.”
“An increase in production would mean an increase in pollution,” he said, adding: “Don’t come and tell me that phosphorus levels in the river — which are already high — won’t be higher with a 25 percent increase in production.”
Melo argued that the Hague’s International Court of Justice, which ruled in favour of Uruguay and UPM in 2010 and against Argentina, had “analyzed production of a million tons, so we must analyze this (new level of) production,” adding that “it would be an outrage to hike up the plant’s output without first completing air quality studies.”
Herald with DyN, Télam