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A pulp mill that has polluted relations between Argentina and Uruguay

August 19, 2007

There are many arguments for and against a $1.2 billion pulp mill being built on the shores of the Uruguay River right across the Argentinean city of Gualeguaychú.

The plant, which is being build by the Finnish company Botnia and will become operational at the end of August or early September, has done more damage to relations between Argentina and Uruguay than any other investment ever.

Relations between Finland and Argentina have suffered as a result as well.

One source close to the project told me that by building the pulp mill higher up river would have solved a lot of problems. Gualeguaychú lives off tourism and the mill is pretty visible from the beach on the Argentinean side.

How much or little the plant will pollute the Uruguay River is one issue. Certainly the Finns, which have some of the best pulp technology in the world, can build a modern plant and pollute as little as possible.

Even if Botnia has the technology they have failed miserably in assuring Argentineans on the other side of the river that the plant won’t cause them any harm.

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Here’s a parking sign in front of the Finnish embassy in Buenos Aires with stickers protesting the construction of the pulp mill. One of the stickers reads “Botnia kills.”

(Photo by Enrique Tessieri)

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