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By Dr. Marcelo Capelluto * and Dra. Elsa Margarita Fornasero **
Mediation by the King of Spain or the last Soviet president is not necessary to reach a satisfactory agreement for the two brother countries. The solutions must be political, and for this both presidents must sit at the same negotiating table and each one of them give something, to reach a solution to the conflict that benefits us all.
"We must not be against the installation of pulp mills in Uruguay, if clean technology is used, that is to say non-polluting", but if not, the solution must adhere, always within the law. Mediation by the King of Spain or the last Soviet president is not necessary to reach a satisfactory agreement for the two brother countries. The solutions must be political, and for this both presidents must sit at the same negotiating table and each one of them give something to reach a solution to the conflict that benefits us all. The Secretary of Natural Resources and Sustainable Environment Romina Picolotti made legal and political mistakes, and embarked the Government in an unprecedented crisis with the Uruguayan government. The courts of “The Hague” should not have been resorted to, no matter how the Uruguay River Statute establishes it, since they are made up of jurists appointed by the European governments and the plants to be installed have either direct or indirect, of European states. The legal and political proposal should have been established within MERCOSUR, and from now on the solution should be political.
By exerting political and economic pressure on the plants, an agreement could be reached faster than expected. It would be about making these plants economically unviable, trying to prevent investors from lending their money, or through special tariffs or retentions similar to those of hydrocarbons, applied to the raw material for pulp mills, which are It is on the Argentine side, that is, you have to use your imagination, but always abiding by the law. “The map of financial creditors and that of the countries that contribute the most to the degradation of the planet coincide. The most evolved states demand from developing countries, such as Argentina, the strict fulfillment of financial responsibilities related to foreign debt, while avoiding the commitment with the preservation of the environment ”.
In 2007 a regulation will come into force within the European Union that obliges pulp manufacturing companies to change their work methodology or, otherwise, to close the plants. For this reason, it is logical to wonder if these companies really intended to maintain the safety standards that the EU requires from 2007 on, why would they close their pulp production plants in Europe to transfer it to Fray Bentos? The industrial technique of these polluting companies is simple: instead of reconverting, they move to South America, where the need for capital investment is put ahead in importance regarding the care of the environment. In this way, the European Union moves its industries that generate hazardous waste here.
The control of the waters of the Uruguay River is in the hands of the binational "Uruguay River Administrative Commission" and it does so through a statute, which establishes that "both States" must consult all works that affect the river. The Uruguayan government did not do it at the time and enhanced the jobs and investment of the company, without taking into account that these plants would come pre-molded for assembly from their places of origin, where they would actually be built. The factories would not produce paper but the cellulose pulp necessary for Empresa Nacional de Celulosa de España and the Finnish Botnia to produce paper in their countries of origin.
Pollution would occur through two routes: water and air. For each day the pulp mills would absorb the same amount of water from the Uruguay River as is used by the entire city of Fray Bentos or Gualeguaychú in a month, returning it to the Uruguay River with dioxins. These substances are harmful and cause concern due to their carcinogenic effects on health and the impact on the flora and fauna of the region. In other words, they would take a cubic meter of water from the Uruguay river per second, returning it to 80 degrees Celsius and contaminated with dioxins and furans, using chlorine dioxide to bleach the cellulose and sulfates to soften the hard part of the wood. The water will contain dioxins and organochlorines plus those wastes generated, whether solid, semi-solid, liquid or gaseous. In humans, dioxins cause disorders of the immune, nervous and reproductive systems. The main routes of exposure for humans are contaminated food, especially meat and dairy products, water, and air.
Dioxins are not removed or degraded, they remain and accumulate. Among the organochlorines there are numerous carcinogens and mutagens. These also affect aquatic life and are stored in the fatty tissues of organisms, bioaccumulating along the food chain.
The polluted water discharged by the plants may reach the coasts of both banks, but the bulk would be washed away by the current of the river reaching the Paraná delta, and the Río de la Plata, distant only 100 km from the plants. also polluting the fresh water that we use from Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires.
Rivers and lakes fulfill three functions in favor of paper mills: a) they minimize the cost of the water used; b) they serve to transport their products; and, c) rivers and lakes constitute a large sewer of untreated toxic waste from the pulp manufacturing process. But the air pollution, with its foul smells, is even more severe. The two plants would release between one and four kilos of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere for every ton of pulp produced, which would fall as acid rain or smog. Acid rain would wreak havoc on marginal areas by making contact with all kinds of diseases possible. Due to the venting of gases, the city of Gualeguaychú will be the most affected: the beauty of its beaches and therefore the economic income generated by tourism and carnival will be lost. There will be no more local fish consumption, mainly pejerrey, and the properties would logically drop in price. A real picture of large economic losses.
National reports from the National Institute of Industrial Technology, the National Water Institute and the Naval Hydrography Service, recommend the use of clean technologies such as TCF, which is totally free of chlorine and therefore much more sustainable for the environment. although at a higher economic cost.
All these investments "are a direct consequence of the implicit environmental subsidies they received from developing countries, such as ours and Uruguay, by using a global common good at no cost, and who carry the external debt of incredible financial weight, We are at the same time the largest environmental creditors on the planet, inasmuch as we constitute a true environmental reserve that does not receive any kind of compensation from its environmental debtors.Not everything is rosy on the Argentine side.
The Paraguayan government requested an investigation into the probable contamination of the Paraná river caused by the residues of a pulp mill in Argentine territory, located in a border area. The investigation would seek to determine whether the waste from a factory located in Puerto Piray, in the Argentine province of Misiones and off the Paraguayan coast, contaminates the river.
* Dr. Marcelo Fabián Capelluto is a Lawyer, Attorney and University Professor in the Subjects "Environmental Law", "Legal Regime of Hazardous Waste" with the position of Head of Regular Practical Works and currently with the position of Deputy (i) in the Law School of the National University of Buenos Aires (UBA); and Adjunct Professor at the Faculties of Law of Uces, UNLZ, Uflo and at the University Institute of the Argentine Federal Police-
** Dra. Elsa Margarita Fornasero is a Lawyer, Procurator and University Professor, with the position of Regular Assistant at the Law School of the National University of Buenos Aires, in charge of which she dictates economic matters, namely; "Financial Economic Analysis" and "Political Economy"