Argentina taking Uruguay to world court over pulp mill, again

Oct. 4, 2013 at 11:04 AM

BUENOS AIRES, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Argentina is taking Uruguay to the International Court of Justice at The Hague over its claim a border pulp mill affects its "environmental sovereignty."

In April 2010, the court rejected Argentina's plea for dismantling the plant but reprimanded Uruguay for not consulting enough with its neighbor over environmental concerns. Three years earlier both countries squandered resources on lawyers' fees arguing in The Hague, Netherlands, over the pulp mill.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman's latest move surprised analysts who cited the two countries' amicable partnership in the Mercosur trade bloc and other regional organizations and past pledges by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to avoid discord over the project, which recycles eucalyptus for making paper.

Both the world court in the Netherlands and the World Bank have discounted Argentine objections over the pulp mill but Fernandez aides this week were on the war path again.

Argentine Entre Rios Province Governor Sergio Urribarri accused the plant's Finnish operator, UPM, of trying to provoke a diplomatic rupture between the two countries, the Buenos Aires Herald reported.

Entre Rios, in Argentina's Mesopotamia region, borders Uruguay and has been the scene of previous government-sponsored campaigns to have the Uruguayan pulp mill industry shut down.

Argentine objections stem from industrial waste including a "foul smell" from the plant, which lies near the Uruguay River. Uruguayan officials argue the plant is safe and doesn't damage the environment, a view backed by the International Court when it threw out a previous Argentine claim in 2010.

UPM-Kymmene Corp., which has headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, bought the mill from former Finnish owner Metsa-Botnia in December 2009. UPM has businesses in 17 countries and employs about 24,000 people worldwide.

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