From: Mayra Pertossi, Associated Press
Published August 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Uruguay's President Says Pulp Mills Will Be Built Near Argentine Border

BUENOS AIRES — Uruguay's visiting president said Wednesday he would not block construction of two wood chip processing factories near the Argentine border, despite environmental concerns.


Tabare Vazquez, Uruguay's left-leaning leader who began his presidency in March, told reporters that plans would go forward for the two pulp mills, a joint venture by Spanish company ENCE and a consortium of Oy Metsa-Botnia AB and Kymmene Corporation from Finland.


"We are going ahead with the construction of these because we are sure they will not cause undue contamination," he said.


The two proposed plants near the Uruguay River on the Uruguayan side of the border with Argentina triggered months of protests by locals who feared that pollutants would endanger nearby woodlands and waters. The issue has also caused some friction between the Argentine and Uruguayan governments, but Vazquez sought to downplay the worries.


"The Uruguayan government gives its guarantee that it will provide all necessary controls under international law" regarding emissions, he said.


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The plants are to be built near the city of Fray Bentos, on the Uruguayan side of the border and connected by a bridge to the Argentine city of Gualeguaychu, 115 miles (180 kms) north of Buenos Aires.


Argentine protesters have repeatedly rallied near the border against the project, which the investors said is worth US$1.8 billion (euro1.46 billion). Some Argentine officials have said they would seek to have an international court block the project.


Source: Associated Press


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