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Pulping plant to be monitored jointly
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Both countries agree on plan, ending lengthy diplomatic crisis over the mill.

Argentina and Uruguay sealed an environmental control agreement for the impacts of the controversial Botnia pulping mill that sits on a river that divides the two nations.

Under the pact, which was signed Aug. 30 by Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro and his Argentine counterpart, Héctor Timerman, in Montevideo, both countries will form a committee that will start working in early September to monitor the Uruguay River, where the Finnish-owned UPM plant, formerly Botnia, is located.

The four specialists on the committee will have five months to begin their monitoring programs, according to the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry.

Framework for the agreement was reached by the presidents of each country in July, but the signed pact puts an end to the diplomatic crisis that erupted over the factory four years ago.

In April, the International Court of Justice, responding to a claim against the plant, brought by Argentina, which argued it would cause environmental damage on both sides of the border, ruled that Uruguay had violated a bilateral treaty when it allowed the plant to be built on the Uruguay River. The ruling, however, did not call for the plant to be torn down.

At some US$1.8 billion, the plant is the largest single investment in Uruguay.

Argentines across the border have repeatedly complained about pollution coming from the pulping plant, which has began producing at maximum capacity, or 1.1 million tons of eucalyptus paper pulp a year.

In late August, members of the Gualeguaychú Environmental Assembly announced that they would again block the bridge that connects the two countries. Protesters had blocked the bridge from November 2006 until earlier this year demanding that the plant be closed.

Gualeguaychú borders the Fray Bentos region in Uruguay, where the plant is located, and residents there are demanding the plant be shut.
—Latinamerica Press.

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