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Impacts of the new pulp mill have been thoroughly assessed

 

UPM’s growth project will impact most strongly on the central and north-eastern regions of Uruguay. These are the relatively less developed regions in the country (Departmental Development Indicator, CINVE 2007-2015) when considering the amount of households below the poverty line, regional competitiveness, social and financial measurements as well as the road network and infrastructure.

 

UPM and the state of Uruguay share the view that an industrial investment will positively impact regional development and improve opportunities for education, employment and health care services.

A project of this scale will obviously bring visible changes in many communities. Besides jobs, training and business opportunities for local individuals and entrepreneurs, there will be changes that require mitigation plans like increasing traffic and social unrest.

It is well understood that large development projects can create disturbances in rural neighbourhoods. Potential social impacts have been mapped and UPM continues active dialogue and cooperation with local communities, authorities and other stakeholders to jointly seek solutions to prevent and minimise any potential disturbances and to boost the positive opportunities created by this project.

Environmental and social impact assessment

As part of the permit process for a new pulp mill, UPM has submitted an environmental and social impact (EsIA) study that is required by the Uruguayan authorities as a prerequisite for a construction permit.​

UPM’s first pulp mill in Uruguay started operations in Fray Bentos in 2007. When assessing the impacts of the new pulp mill, UPM and external experts have used the extensive data on the environmental performance as well as the socioeconomic impacts of the UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill systematically gathered for over 10 years. Part of the monitoring started in Fray Bentos already before the start of the mill operations.

The impact study for the new pulp mill, prepared by the consulting companies EIA-Estudio Ingeniería Ambiental (Uruguay) and Ecometrix (Canada), consists of a description of ​the planned pulp mill​, identification and assessment of any potential environmental and social impacts​ as well as mitigation measures and conclusions.​

The complete study available here (spanish)

 

Conclusions of the study

The most significant impacts of the mill are improved access to jobs, training and health care services.

The new pulp mill will not have any negative impacts to human health, living conditions, urban structure, land use, cultural environment, wildlife and conservation sites, soil, bedrocks or groundwater.

Some potential impacts identified require mitigation measures. These concern temporary housing during the mill construction phase, increased traffic, waste generation, air quality as well as water consumption and quality. All these potential impacts are acceptable and manageable, and can be minimised with mitigation plans, which UPM has prepared in cooperation with local and national organisations and authorities.

UPM’s presentation on EsIA

Summary of the EsIA and main conclusions

 

 

The main river in the interior of Uruguay

Rio Negro originates in the southern highlands of Brazil and flows west across the entire width of the country. UPM's Paso de los Toros mill will utilize water from the river. The operations require about 1,5 m3 of water per second and around 80% of that goes back to the river, the rest is evaporated.

 
 

Based on the environmental studies done by international and local experts, the direct impact of the mill on the Rio Negro River would be minimal. The long term average annual use of water is less than 1% of the river’s average flow rate in Paso de los Toros. Water effluent will be strictly monitored by UPM and by Uruguay’s authorities.

Existing data from local environmental studies indicate that nutrient load has grown rapidly in the river and water quality is getting worse. Improving the quality of the water requires actions from all riverside stakeholders and industries. The State of Uruguay has launched the Rio Negro Initiative to improve the status of the river. Four projects have so far been kicked off within this initiative including research and awareness building on the quality of the river water.

UPM will fund the improvement of the municipal waste water treatment plant and restoration of the municipal landfill in Paso de los Toros as part of its community investments.

One of the main conclusions of the environmental impact assessment is that the existing eutrophication will continue in the river if no measures are taken to improve the water quality​. With the pulp mill and the planned measures, the Rio Negro water quality would remain at the current level​.​ With the implementation of the Rio Negro initiative and ensuring that best practices are carried out by all parties, the water quality could be improved in the medium to long term.