Uruguayan President José Mujica yesterday announced the decision for UPM to increase production at controversial ex-Botnia pulp mill.
Argentina’s Secretary of Environment, Juan Mussi, confirmed that the government would return to the International Court in The Hague on the matter.
The original debate over the pulp mill started in 2005 when the Argentine government claimed that the mill had polluted the Río Uruguay, bordering both countries. But it was ruled in 2010 that although the Uruguayan government failed to inform Argentina about production, the mill did not in fact pollute the river.
President Mujica confirmed the decision to increase production after a meeting in Buenos Aires with the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Almagro, and his Argentine counterpart Héctor Timerman. Mujica stated that he is “in Uruguay and must look after the interests of Uruguayans in the forestry chain”.
Mujuca gave authorisation for UPM to increase production, which currently stands at one million tonnes of cellulose per year. He agreed to an increase of 100,000 tonnes, representing half of the total amount requested by the Finnish firm at the plant in Fray Bentos.
Mujica explained that “the role of the governor is sometimes obligated to take painful decisions”, recognising that his resolution probably causes “tension and misunderstandings”. He however added that “nobody is going to take away the love and respect I have for the Argentine people”.
From the Argentine perspective, the governor of Entre Ríos classified the decision and “non-understandable… the environmental impact of Botnia is clear”. Each day the paper mill produces 57kg of phosphorus, 142kg of nitrogen, and 16,540kg of untreated organic matter that flows into the river.