Green Cross Argentina’s environmental impact assessment of the Botnia paper mills along the Rio Uruguay continues in Argentina and Uruguay to analyze the quality of transboundary air, soil and water in the region.
The project is currently in the second phase of assessment, which is the measurement of water, soil and air contamination levels. During the first stage that tested the air quality of the region, the study found the establishment of the paper mills did not significantly increase the air pollution levels during both the start up of the mill and the first months of activity. However, the measurements need to continue for a longer span of time in order to draw long-term conclusions.
Recently Green Cross Argentina met with staff of the Universidad de Entre Ríos to discuss the main environmental problems of the city, during which the University researchers identified problems related to drinking water, sewage and the drainage of agrochemicals into rivers as the main environmental problems. However, citizens consider the paper mill as a serious problem.
The Environmental Assembly of Gualeguaychú is convinced that the main pipe from Botnia’s plant is “hidden somewhere” in the river and GC Argentina is conducting systematic measurement of water composition on a wide area of the Uruguay River during both normal operation and maintenance of the plant to locate the pipe based on scientific data of the flow of contaminants and changes in the quality of the water.
The giant USD $1.2 billion Finnish paper mills were established alongside the Rio Uruguay in 2006, a transboundary river site between Uruguay and Argentina despite objections by the Argentine government and local residents of the city of Gualeguaychu, who claimed that the mills violate the Transboundary River Treaty signed in 1975.
The Argentine government brought the issue to the International Court of Justice, which is due to make a decision at the end of the year.