A writ of amparo before the Justice was filed today by members of the Movement for a Sustainable Uruguay (Movus). in which is denounced the non-compliance by the UPM Company of the environmental conditions under which the installation of its new pulp mill in the department of Durazno was authorized and requests the suspension of the works in progress until these requirements are fully met.
The grounds for this protection action are found in the documentation of the National Directorate of the Environment (Dinama), where, through the reports made by its technicians, it can be verified that UPM exceeded the “maximum period of 6 months” to comply the conditions under which the Prior Environmental Authorization was granted, on May 14, 2019, to the projected pulp mill and free zone.
Pressed to meet the deadlines agreed in the contract, when UPM had not yet confirmed its investment decision, the previous government authorized the pulp mill on the condition that the company later completed key elements of the project. However, UPM began construction of the plant without meeting these requirements, some of which define the viability or not of the project.
This is the case of the “baseline” of the Environmental Monitoring Plan, that is, the previous study of the characteristics of the area to determine what the situation is prior to the project in its area of influence, in such a way that it allows a later monitoring of the different evolutionary phases of the project and its impact. Having started the construction of the plant without this requirement will mean that its real impacts cannot be evaluated later.
Another requirement is to guarantee the dilution of 107 million liters of effluents, which the pulp mill will dump into the river every day. The environmental authorization established that the mixing zone cannot be more than 1,000 meters long, and that it must not reach the banks of the Río Negro. This definition, which also had a maximum term to be presented to the government on November 14, 2019, has not been completed and accepted until today.
We understand that the works of this project cannot proceed if these fundamental conditions have not been met. There are not precedents for an action of these characteristics before the Justice of our country, but there is also no precedent for a company in charge of a project of this magnitude, which despite being obliged to present a complete environmental impact study, did not comply with the conditions established in its authorization.
We are fully aware that a decision such as the one requested before de Justice will affect the activity of the workers and companies involved in this project, but we have no doubt either that above these circumstances lie the interests of Uruguay and the safeguarding of the conditions that ensure the future for our children and grandchildren, in a sovereign and supportive country, with a healthy environment.
Movement for a Sustainable Uruguay (Movus) *
November 5, 2020.
* Guayubira is a member organization of Movus