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Cellulose, Observations on the PCI Report

Cellulose, Observations on the PCI Report

By Grupo Guayubira

Throughout Pacific Consultants International's cumulative impact report, the consultants strive to demonstrate that neither the extensive eucalyptus plantations nor the two massive pulp mills will have significant negative impacts. Some observations of the Guayubira Group.

Some observations of Grupo Guayubira on the Pacific Consultants International report on the accumulated impact of pulp mills in Uruguay

As was timely raised to World Bank officials, the Guayubira Group considers that the draft report on the accumulated impact of the pulp mills produced by the consulting firm Pacific Consultants International does not have the necessary seriousness to constitute the central element of the consultation the IFC is conducting. Indeed, the report is totally biased, both in favor of afforestation and with regard to pulp mills. To reach its conclusions, it appeals to both manipulation and concealment of information.


Throughout the report, the consultants strive to demonstrate that neither the extensive eucalyptus plantations (which would be expanded by an additional 65,000 hectares in the region) nor the two huge pulp mills will have significant negative impacts. Already on the first page of the report it is possible to intuit the conclusion, since there it is said that "both companies are leading producers in their sector, both from a technological point of view and in terms of their values, policies and business and social approaches" . The mere fact that the report affirms that Ence in Spain and Eufores in Uruguay are leaders in their values, policies and social approaches shows their total lack of objectivity in this regard, given that the history of both companies includes environmental destruction, criminal acts and rejection to its activities, both in Spain and Uruguay.

Since the report does not deserve an in-depth analysis, we will limit ourselves to showing some of the many cases in which the biased and unethical way in which it was proceeded is evident and therefore disqualifies it.

1. Regarding afforestation

1.1. Water

The report hides existing information on the impacts documented in Uruguay about the impact of tree plantations on water, precisely in areas where Botnia and Ence have their plantations. The best known case is that of Cerro Alegre (Soriano), where all the wells of local farmers dried up and where a substantial decrease in the level of water courses and the disappearance of wetlands is observed. But the situation is repeated in Paraje Pence (also in Soriano), Flores town in Paysandú, San Francisco stream, Valdés stream, Negro stream, Tranqueras and many other places in the country. However, the consultants chose to ignore the reality and to quote spokespersons for the forestry companies, who claim otherwise. But even when those spokesmen claim that the impacts exist (Daniel Martino, quoted in the report), the consultants end up minimizing them. To this end, they appeal, for example, to say that "it has been argued that the fact that 3% of the surface of the Litoral region is covered with eucalyptus plantations will bring about problems of reduction of the flows and the level of the water tables. phreatic ". "The use of the 3% percentage is intended to imply that plantations do not actually occupy too much land. However, this percentage is wrong. On the one hand, because according to the 2000 agricultural census, the national percentage of" artificial forests "was 4% (MGAP, 2003 .-" Forest activity through the agricultural census "). But the percentage is even more erroneous at the level of the region where most of the Botnia and Ence plantations are installed. that fundamentally cover the departments of Paysandú and Río Negro, where the respective percentages were 13.8% and 10.7% in 2000 and are now surely even higher because since then they have continued to plant in the area (Census General Agropecuario 2000): http://www.mgap.gub.uy/Diea/CENSO2000/data/25.htm

On the other hand, the report manipulates the information by citing an investigator (Geary) but hiding his findings regarding impacts on water. Indeed, the report says that Geary "mentions this concern in his work", but omits the following information, where the author explains how he came to show that the impact on water exists: "In addition to the evidence from studies carried out in In other countries, I observed a series of aerial photos of land planted with eucalyptus trees in Uruguay. Some places within the plantation areas were initially too wet to be planted. A few years later, those areas were dry enough to be planted and the nearby lagoons had dried up, which was not the case with those further away. "

Everything would suggest that the foregoing is at least proof that in the case investigated by Geary an important impact is reliably demonstrated and that this would warrant thinking that similar cases may have occurred in other forested areas. Hiding this information from the IFC and the general public is serious.

At the end of the work, the consultants quote Couto and Betters (1995), who affirm that "the effects produced by eucalyptus, other tree plantations and native forests on the hydrographic basins are the same". Said quote -in itself highly debatable- is out of context, since these authors do not refer to impacts on grassland ecosystems, which is the case in Uruguay. What is clear is that this is intended to close the issue, without taking into account the enormous amount of experiences existing worldwide that prove that large-scale plantations of fast-growing trees (eucalyptus and pines) seriously affect the local water resources. Beyond the controversy surrounding this important issue, a minimum of seriousness on the part of a consultancy consists of citing both studies that prove one or the other.

1.2. I usually

In terms of impacts on soils, the consultants limit themselves to citing Couto and Betters (1995), who state that "the demand for nutrients by eucalyptus is high, but it is comparable to that of other tree species and is much more lower than that of agricultural crops. " With this appointment they intend to dilute the problem, ignoring existing studies in Uruguay about the impacts of these plantations. Recently, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of the Republic (Céspedes, Panario and Brazeiro), analyzed the impacts of eucalyptus plantations on the soil (UNCIEP, 2004) and the results of this research are more than worrisome. A summary of this research is available on the internet (http://www.guayubira.org.uy/plantaciones/suelo.html) on the Guayubira page, to which the consultants had access (as verified in the footnote of page from page 17 of Annex B on plantations). However, they chose to ignore that information.

1.3. Flora and fauna

The report states that "The development of plantations in the region is a positive factor as plantations provide a better habitat structure with greater niches for a wider variety of flora and fauna, thus increasing biodiversity compared to current conditions of pastures… As a result, these projects improve biodiversity, rather than decrease it "(p. 46). Not even the most ardent defenders of monoculture tree plantations have ever dared to make that claim, with which the consultants demonstrate their total lack of seriousness.

Added to the above is the manipulation carried out with the Thomas F. Geary report, where he is quoted as saying:

"Due to the small percentage of land area that is intended to be converted into forest plantations in Uruguay, it does not seem likely that there will be significant impacts on biodiversity. Furthermore, the effect on natural biodiversity could be difficult to interpret given that biodiversity has been modified by centuries of pastoral and agricultural use. Exotic grasses and other exotic forage plants are often common vegetation. Erosion has probably produced irreversible changes in the ecosystem. "

These opinions of Geary are then qualified in the following paragraph, which the consultants decided to omit:

"However, plantations are now restricted to certain types of soil, the total area of ​​which can be planted. If certain species - especially endemic ones - need these soils, they will be threatened or endangered."

On the other hand, a simple tour of the eucalyptus plantations allows us to see that there are very few species of flora that can thrive there and that there are also very few species of fauna that develop there. In addition, a quick conversation with rural producers reveals important changes in the fauna linked to the plantations, in particular the explosion of populations of wild boars, foxes, pigeons and poisonous snakes. In the same conversation, the fact of the death of mullets, tatúes and birds due to the ants used in forestry also arises. Obviously the consultants did not want to hear that and therefore did not hear it.

1.4. job

In the section on employment, the report begins by saying that "According to studies carried out in Uruguay, the development of plantations has created more sources of work than previously existed at the local level through livestock (Geary, 2001; Carrere and Lohmann, nineteen ninety six)".

This is perhaps one of the most flagrant cases of total lack of ethics on the part of the consultants, since Carrere is a member of the Guayubira Group and in subsequent works he rectified this position. The fact was reported by Carrere himself to the IFC a few days after the consultancy's report was known, who detailed the matter as follows:

"At the time this book was written, I still trusted the official information and based on it I was able to make that statement. From then on, independent investigations emerged that proved the opposite, and these were reflected in later works, such as In an article published in 2002 ("Uruguay: the absurd injustice behind the afforestation", Ricardo Carrere). In it he stated:

‘In terms of employment, the result [of the forestry promotion plan] is a total failure. Of all agricultural activities, extensive cattle and sheep farming has always been considered the worst in terms of number of jobs generated per hectare. Not anymore: afforestation has proven to be even more negative.

According to the data from the 2000 agricultural census, the number of permanent workers per thousand forested hectares is 4.49. Beef cattle farming generates 5.84 permanent jobs in the same area of ​​land, while sheep farming provides 9.18 jobs. And these, together with rice production (7.75), are the worst figures. At the opposite extreme are production for self-consumption (262 jobs / thousand hectares), poultry (211), viticulture (165), horticulture (133) and pig production (128), while in the middle the production of dairy cattle (22), machinery services (20) and cereal and industrial crops (10) are located.

Faced with these figures, the forestry sector usually argues that it generates numerous seasonal-type jobs, both in plantation and harvest. However, even taking this into account, the comparative figures with meat and sheep farming remain practically identical, since they also generate temporary jobs. Added to that are the terrible working conditions of these seasonal workers, described in a separate box.

In summary, in a total of 660,000 hectares, afforestation has generated 2,962 permanent jobs. Worse than that impossible. But even more, if one takes into account that forest plantations have displaced other agricultural activities and that all other activities generate more permanent jobs than afforestation, it is concluded that this activity has meant a net loss of permanent jobs in the agricultural sector. In effect, assuming that the forested area had continued to be occupied by cattle or sheep, in the first case the jobs would have risen to 3,854, while in the second they would have been 6,058. It is clear then that the remedy has been worse than the disease and that afforestation has contributed to expelling workers from rural areas. '

Source: Guayubira Group, http://www.guayubira.org.uy/trabajo/injusticia.html

In his message to the IFC, Carrere goes on to say that "The consultants had access to the Guayubira Group website (as verified in the footnote of page 17 of the annex that we comment on), where that article is available, at as well as a great deal of information on social and environmental impacts of afforestation. The consultants chose to ignore both that article and the entire body of information included there, because it obviously did not fit their vision on the subject. If they had, In their report they could have referred - among many other things - to the terrible working conditions prevailing in the Uruguayan forestry sector, and the IFC would surely have been interested in that information.


Even more serious, the undersigned personally conveyed his position on employment in forestry to the Madariaga consultant, as stated in the statement released by Guayubira on August 12, 2005 ("Guayubira meets with World Bank consultant on pulp mills "). There it says:

'With regard to employment, Ricardo Carrere stressed that it is essential that an assessment be made of the accumulated impact of factories on employment, based on serious figures, both about the jobs that would be generated and those that would be lost. (particularly in the tourism, fishing and beekeeping sectors) if the plants were to be installed. This study should also include job losses due to the substitution of agriculture and livestock by afforestation, which generates fewer jobs than any other agricultural activity. '

Carrere ends by saying that "Madariaga took notes of what was stated at the meeting and obviously chose not to include that information, preferring instead to use the 1996 quote. This constitutes a clear case of information manipulation."

The lack of seriousness is also manifested in the figures that the consultants handle in terms of employment generated by the plantations. In their report they say that "It is recognized [who recognizes it?] That the plantations generate more sources of work" and endorses -critically- the coefficients used by the SGS certifier for the Botnia plantations. According to these coefficients, one hectare dedicated to livestock generates 0.0047 permanent jobs, while afforestation generates 0.0125 permanent jobs. From there the consultants deduce that the 208,000 hectares needed to supply the plants would generate 2,600 permanent jobs.

But reality shows that the above is false. In 2005, Botnia owned 100,000 hectares of land. Applying these coefficients, if their lands had continued to be used exclusively for livestock activities, there would have been 470 permanent workers (although since agriculture was also done, which generates more employment per hectare, the figure would have been higher). In other words, that figure of 470 permanent jobs is the minimum. Applying the employment coefficient assigned to afforestation, permanent employment should have grown to 1250.

However, Botnia itself denies these figures on its website, where it states that it directly employs 209 people. That is, less than half of the minimum number of permanent jobs that there would have been before afforestation (470).

The report also not only omits to talk about the poor working conditions that prevail in the contracting companies that perform most of the tasks for forestry companies (in particular in the case of Ence-Eufores), but they show it as something positive: "The plantations… encourage the development of private contractors who provide support services." In fact, it is not even correct to say that they "provide support services", since they do practically all tasks, from soil preparation, ant, weed and fire control to planting, pruning and harvesting.

Given that the consultants accessed the Guayubira website, they surely could find multiple complaints about the prevailing working conditions in the forestry sector (http://www.guayubira.org.uy/trabajo/index.html), including those of the Uruguayan Association of Labor Inspectors (http://www.guayubira.org.uy/trabajo/trabajoAITU.mht). Obviously, they also chose to hide the information here.

2. Regarding pulp production

2.1. On dioxin and furan emissions

The report states that "ECF bleaching ... essentially eliminates the production of dioxins and furans" and then adds that "the total replacement of elemental chlorine by chlorine dioxide results in the reduction of dioxins and furans in the effluent to undetectable levels" (p. 16). In other words, dioxins and furans are effectively generated. The "detectable" level will obviously depend on the scale of the operation. In this case we would be facing two undertakings whose cumulative scale places them among the largest in the world, but the report still rules out that dioxins and furans will be "detectable."

But also on this issue the bias of the report in favor of pulp mills is evident. On January 4, the Pesticides Action Network-Uruguay (which works on the issue of dioxin and furan emissions within the framework of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants) made a critical analysis of the report under the heading of "Consultant of World Bank hides dioxin and furan emissions. " The RAPAL statement says:

"On December 19, the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) released the report on the accumulated impact of the Botnia and Ence pulp mills, carried out by the consulting firm Pacific Consultants International.

Regarding the issue of dioxin and furan emissions from the planned plants, the report says that 'In order not to produce dioxins and furans, the industry is currently turning decisively to the use of a process known as bleaching Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF). ECF bleaching uses chlorine dioxide instead of elemental chlorine and its advantage is that it essentially eliminates the production of dioxins and furans. ' Further on, he goes on to say that: "According to research carried out, the total replacement of elemental chlorine by chlorine dioxide results in the reduction of dioxins and furans in the effluents to undetectable levels."

"On what are these consultants based to affirm that the ECF system reduces dioxin and furan emissions to 'undetectable levels'? What are the 'investigations carried out' that demonstrate this? Since this affirmation is contradicted by other investigations claiming otherwise, RAPAL decided to search for and analyze the sources mentioned in this report, taking into account the importance of the issue in the debate in Uruguay and Argentina on pulp mills, the result was surprising:

"Only three sources are cited: Mounteer, Colodette and Silva (2002), Mounteer, Colodette and Silva (2001) and Colodette, Gomes, Rabelo and Eiras (2005)

"In all three references, the same researcher (Colodette) appears, who is linked to the Brazilian Technical Association of Pulp and Paper, which brings together all the large pulp manufacturers in Brazil

"two of them were carried out by the same research team (Mounteer, Colodette and Silva)

"One of them refers to an investigation carried out in the laboratory and in it the emissions of dioxins and furans are not even mentioned (Mounteer, Colodette and Silva 2002)

"Another of them is a work presented at the International Colloquium on Eucalyptus Pulp organized by the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper, which cannot be accessed, since it is not mentioned where it can be found, nor is it available on the page of that Association.

In short, the lack of seriousness and objectivity of the consultants on an issue as important as this is incredible, since not only do they not technically refute other investigations that claim that the ECF system generates dioxins and furans, but they do not even mention them.

Referring to the ECF bleaching system, the Green Press Initiative informs us that "paper companies that use ECF often say that dioxins are 'not detectable' in their effluents." This organization states that this is not true and that this system "significantly reduces dioxins, but does not eliminate them" (http://www.greenpressinitiative.org/chlorinefreeproducts.htm).

Since the consultants hired by the IFC chose to adhere to that position of the paper industry, it is important to share some of the research that claims that the bleaching of cellulose by the ECF system does indeed produce dioxins and furans.

Stringer and Johnston (2001) argue that a complete switch from elemental chlorine to chlorine dioxide (ECF) bleaching could reduce dioxin and furan (organochlorine) emissions by up to 80%, but although all pulp mills of the world changed their bleaching system and there was a control of the equipment used, it would also continue to emit at least 140,000 tons per year of organochlorines both in water, air, land and products of the industry itself. These emissions can contain around 2,000 tons of dioxins and furans annually.

The same authors add that in addition to dioxins and furans, the bleaching process that uses chlorine dioxide (ECF) also releases a series of substances such as chloroform, chlorinated acid, and other toxic compounds that can be accumulated in fish tissues. . Furthermore, chlorine dioxide bleaching produces large amounts of chlorate, a highly potent herbicide that kills plants and fish. Finally, most of the organochlorines found in the effluents of pulp mills have not yet been even identified and even less evaluated in terms of their possible impacts (Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

In an investigation on air emissions by Rosenberg et al. (1994) in a Finnish ECF-type plant "high levels of various dioxins and chlorinated furans were detected, where furans were the main component". The same research found that levels of the main furan found in the air "were higher in the blood of a group of workers at the pulp mill than in the surrounding population" (Rosenberg et al. 1995, cited in Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

In another study in the United States, the liquid effluents of an ECF plant were analyzed and dioxins and furans were found in the effluent that reached the treatment plant, in the sludge of the same and in the filtered water of the sludge "( Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

At an ECF plant in New Zealand, "elevated levels of chlorophenolic compounds were found in the river and in the river sediments where the effluents were discharged. Chlorophenolic concentrations did not return to normal levels until approximately 20 km downstream of the plant" (Judd et al. 1995, cited in Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

The results of another important number of studies on pulp mills using the ECF system show that the dioxins they emit "continue to be present at detectable levels" (Gillespie 1996, cited in Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

Reeve et al. (1995) argue that the presence of elemental chlorine (which is the main generator of dioxins and furans) in ECF pulp mills occurs in two ways. On the one hand, the very production of chlorine dioxide that the plant uses is accompanied by the co-production of elemental chlorine. But even if that problem were solved, "elemental chlorine is also generated during chlorine dioxide bleaching (Reeve et al. 1995, cited in Stringer and Johnston, 2001).

According to the work presented by a Chilean researcher who develops tasks in the Faculty of Sciences of Uruguay (Carrasco 2004) "the bleaching stage is the one that still presents the greatest amount of environmental problems to be solved, where the production of organochlorine compounds can be reduced by eliminating the use of elemental chlorine as an oxidizing agent. However, the use of other known oxidizing agents (chlorine dioxide or hydrogen peroxide), although leading to a substantial reduction in the emission of organochlorines (from 67 to 3.3 mg AOX per liter), its new chemical characteristics pose new environmental impacts.For example, the analysis of a DE-D process by means of gas chromatography associated with mass spectrometry (Carrasco, 1995) revealed that said effluents presented compounds similar to steroidal hormones; that physiologically can regulate sexual development and hydromineral balance of organisms ".

All of the above at least clearly demonstrates the lack of objectivity shown by the consultants on this issue, since it seems very strange that they have not been able to identify research that shows that the ECF process generates dioxins and furans. On the other hand, it is even more strange that they have not requested reports from the governments of Spain and Finland about the monitoring that they should be carrying out on dioxin and furan emissions by Ence and Botnia in their respective countries. Given that both companies operate pulp mills that in some cases use the ECF process and in others the TCF (totally chlorine-free), the data from that specific monitoring would have been much more relevant than the meager references provided.

The consultants do not even mention the fundamental issue of the production volume of the two pulp mill projects. It is totally unserious to rely - as they do - on some laboratory analysis to affirm that dioxins and furans are "not detectable" there, without taking into account that Botnia plans to produce 1 million tons of cellulose per year and Ence 500,000. How can they say that dioxins and furans will not be emitted at "detectable" levels at that production scale?

At least in this matter, the report presented by the consultant is unacceptable. It is not only unacceptable for the Uruguayan and Argentine civil society, but also for the governments of both countries. Furthermore, it cannot be accepted by the body that commissioned and paid for this study - the International Finance Corporation - whose board of directors now has the responsibility to reject it due to its lack of seriousness and objectivity in a matter as serious as this one. "

Source: http://www.chasque.net/rapaluy/BM.html

Added to this is the information recently produced by WWF related to CELCO's pulp mill in Chile. On January 18, the Guayubira Group delivered to the Ministries of the Environment, Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Public Health, Tourism, Foreign Relations and Industries, a document made public in November 2005 by the well-known international organization WWF. Said document is the "Report of Observations and Recommendations" of the "WWF International Assessment Mission regarding the controversy of the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary and Ramsar site and the Valdivia pulp mill of CELCO" (1). Given that said factory operates with the same bleaching system that would be used by the planned Botnia and Ence pulp mills in Uruguay (ECF), the conclusions of this report constitute a very important contribution to demonstrate that the companies' statements about the non contamination of their processes are false.

Like what has happened in Uruguay, the report says that in Valdivia "CELCO's pulp mill was presented at the beginning as a clean, low-risk and non-polluting project; the air pollution problems that followed and the deterioration of the Sanctuary represented a shock to public opinion. "

Regarding the issue of contamination, the report says that "The bleaching stage is perhaps the most environmentally problematic in a bleached kraft pulp mill. Large quantities of chemicals are produced and used and is often the only part of the plant that generates a permanent flow of effluents ". Both Botnia and Ence maintain that the bleaching method they would use (ECF) is "next generation", and that it will not result in the emission of dioxins or furans.

In this regard, the WWF report contradicts these statements when it says that "ECF laundering has been the dominant methodology used in the industry for the last 10-15 years, but it is definitely not a state-of-the-art or next-generation technology and practice in terms of que se refiere a garantizar la protección del medio ambiente. La decisión de usar blanqueo ECF en las plantas de celulosa modernas suele fundarse en conocimientos anticuados y supuestos respecto de la calidad de la pulpa, tal como fue el caso de la planta Valdivia de CELCO. De hecho, desde la introducción del blanqueo totalmente libre de cloro (TCF) a comienzos de los años noventa, los avances técnicos han permitido obtener la misma calidad y brillo de la pulpa que con blanqueo con dióxido de cloro".

El informe continúa diciendo que "En relación con la tecnología ECF, es necesario mencionar que todos los químicos blanqueadores son oxidantes poderosos y, en consecuencia, constituyen una amenaza para los trabajadores y para quienes viven cerca de la planta. Cuando se compara una gama completa de características, las sustancias químicas en base a oxígeno son menos peligrosas, en general, que el dióxido de cloro (ClO2), compuesto que puede tener efectos tóxicos crónicos y agudos, lo que incluye irritación ocular, nasal y de la garganta, tos, dificultad para respirar (posiblemente tardía), edema pulmonar, posible bronquitis crónica y asma. Todo lo anterior, junto con el cloroformo y otros sub-productos similares del blanqueo ECF, conforma el perfil de peligrosidad del dióxido de cloro".

Dado que las dos plantas proyectadas se instalarían en las cercanías de Fray Bentos (Botnia a apenas 4 kilómetros y Ence a 12) resulta muy importante saber que este informe sostiene que "Además de los peligros en el propio lugar de trabajo, el dióxido de cloro puede presentar un riesgo muy significativo para las comunidades que viven cerca de una planta. Si bien hasta hace poco las empresas de celulosa sostenían que esta parte del proceso no generaba dioxinas, estudios recientes encontraron dioxinas en residuos provenientes de la producción de dióxido de cloro en tres plantas de celulosa en Suecia".

Al igual que lo que acontece actualmente en Uruguay, "Durante más de 10 años, las empresas de celulosa han sostenido que no es posible encontrar dioxinas en el proceso ECF, debido al perfeccionamiento de los métodos y procesos de blanqueo. Sin embargo, un estudio reciente publicado en junio de 2005 muestra aumentos en la concentración de dioxinas en las cercanías de plantas de celulosa con tecnología ECF entre1979 y 2000 en el Mar Báltico. Según el grupo de investigación, los indicadores apuntan a una contaminación continua más que a filtraciones desde los sedimentos, lo que fue una hipótesis común. El estudio vincula los mayores niveles de dioxinas al blanqueo con dióxido de cloro como una fuente posible. Los resultados de ese estudio han remecido a la industria en su conjunto y el Organismo encargado de la Protección Ambiental de Suecia y la industria forestal del país han encargado un nuevo programa de investigaciones al respecto". Sin embargo, ello no impide que Botnia o Ence continúen asegurando que su sistema ECF es "limpio" y que no genera dioxinas.

También en Finlandia el blanqueo ECF está siendo cuestionado. Al respecto, el informe menciona que "La industria de la celulosa europea está muy interesada en las investigaciones en torno al blanqueo catalítico con gas de oxígeno que se llevan a cabo en la Universidad Técnica de Helsinki. Según el investigador Tuula Lehtimaa, la industria está enfrentando presiones para cambiarse al blanqueo TCF. En este sentido, el blanqueo catalítico con gases de oxígeno ofrecería las ventajas de la tecnología TCF tradicional, al tiempo que sería incluso más eficiente en función de los costos que el ECF". Sin embargo, ningún funcionario de Botnia parece haberse enterado de dichas investigaciones, que están siendo llevadas a cabo en la capital de su propio país.

A lo anterior se suma la opinión de un conjunto de biólogos y bioquímicos egresados de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de la República, que en agosto de 2005 hicieron pública una "Carta abierta al gobierno nacional" (2). En la misma expresaban su "rotundo rechazo a la instalación de más plantas de celulosa en territorio nacional", asegurando "que sí habrá contaminación con la instalación de plantas de celulosa que ENCE y Botnia quieren emprender en nuestro territorio".

El informe de WWF sobre la planta de Valdivia en Chile confirma la seriedad de los planteos del conjunto de académicos firmantes de dicha carta. Pese a las promesas de CELCO y pese a los mecanismos de control del gobierno chileno, la contaminación de la fábrica no solo existió sino que fue devastadora. El Grupo Guayubira espera que los organismos correspondientes del Estado tomen seriamente en cuenta los hallazgos de este informe para evitar que aquí se repita un desastre similar.

(1) Ver informe completo de WWF en:
http://www.guayubira.org.uy/celulosa/informe_wwf_rio_cruces.pdf

(2) Ver Carta Abierta y firmantes en: http://www.guayubira.org.uy/celulosa/egresados.html

Finalmente, cabe destacar la propia política del Banco Mundial en la materia, que ni siquiera es citada por los consultores. En efecto, los "lineamientos" (guidelines) del Banco Mundial dicen que "El uso de cloro elemental para el blanqueo no es recomendado. Solo los procesos ECF son aceptables y, desde una perspectiva ambiental, los procesos TCF son preferidos". (The use of elemental chlorine for bleaching is not recommended. Only ECF processes are acceptable, and, from an environmental perspective, TCF processes are preferred). Es decir, que el propio Banco está diciendo que el proceso ECF resulta en impactos ambientales cuando sus lineamientos sostienen que los procesos TCF "son preferidos" desde una "perspectiva ambiental".

Fuente: http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/enviro.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/gui_pulp_WB/$FILE/pu

2.2. Sobre residuos peligrosos

Con respecto a los "residuos peligrosos" que se producirían en el proceso industrial, el informe dice que se generan en "pequeñas cantidades" (pág. 57). En el cuadro respectivo queda claro qué es los que los consultores entienden por "pequeñas cantidades": ¡entre un mínimo de 180 y un máximo de 250 toneladas al año! (pág. 58) Más interesante aún, el informe se contradice a si mismo cuando dice que "en última instancia, la ubicación y plan de gestión de estos materiales deberá presentarse ante DINAMA para su aprobación" y pocas líneas más abajo sostiene que "ambas compañías cuentan con planes adecuados y aprobados por el gobierno para la disposición de los residuos peligrosos fuera del emplazamiento" (pág. 62). ¿Están aprobados o no?

2.3. Sobre efluentes líquidos

Sin entrar a analizar este tema en profundidad, la siguiente cita del informe de los consultores es más que interesante, ya que dice que "los modelos también indican que tales plumas de efluentes permanecerán en las cercanías de la costa uruguaya y no afectarían el lado argentino del río en ningún momento" (pág. 74). Es decir, que en su afán por tranquilizar a los argentinos, reconoce que los efluentes de la planta afectarán el lado uruguayo.

2.4. Sobre impactos a otras actividades

En materia de apicultura, el informe estima que en la región existen 2.115 apicultores, pero afirma que "no debería haber un impacto cuantificable en la apicultura de la zona" (pág. 71). Sin embargo, no es eso lo que opinan los apicultores, quienes ya están siendo impactados negativamente por las plantaciones de eucaliptos. Es interesante destacar que con motivo de la visita de la oficina de la Ombudsman del Banco Mundial, la Cooperativa Agraria Limitada Apícola de Soriano (CALAS) elaboró un documento detallando los principales problemas para los apicultores derivados de la plantación de eucaliptos. Seguramente la Ombudsman le debe haber transmitido estas inquietudes a los consultores. El documento se titula "Montes de Eucaliptos Versus Apicultura" y describe los impactos de la forestación de la siguiente manera:

1) Ocupación de miles de hectáreas: Por un monocultivo que en algunas especies al séptimo año se aprovecha alguna floración, de inmediato se cortan los árboles y otra vez sin nada durante siete años. Atenta contra la biodiversidad floral, aumenta stress de colmenas, impide crecimiento del sector productivo y se suma posibles pérdidas totales por el alto grado de riesgo de incendio que se podría propagar a campos donde se establecen colonias.-

2) Desplazamiento de apicultores: De todas las tierras que van adquiriendo para la forestación, se le solicita al apicultor que retire las colmenas. Lo obliga a buscar un lugar para instalarse, que cada vez le resulta más distante del que estaba anteriormente y termina complicándole los costos de producción. Incide en la disminución de autoempleo o como emprendimiento familiar; también repercute en los empleos indirectos como los carpinteros y directos como los changadores zafrales en la cosecha de miel.-

3) Pérdida de hectáreas, de diversas floraciones: Los índices de productividad de la tierra en los departamentos de Río Negro y Soriano son de los mejores del País. Los espacios que hoy están ocupando los eucaliptos eran antes explotaciones agrícolas ganaderas y tambos desde donde la apicultura recibe una variada floración que la hace sustentable. Hasta un predio abandonado y sin ningún tipo de explotación genera en la maleza que lo va ocupando una situación favorable para la apicultura; todo lo contrario sucede con un predio de eucaliptos.

4) Proliferación de plagas: El hábitat creado por los montes de eucaliptos hace muy propicio el desarrollo de plagas, entre otras jabalíes y zorros, que provocan destrozos en los apiarios que se encuentran en espacios cercanos.

5) Alta densidad de colmenas en lugares aptos: Con apicultores que están en actividad desde hace más de 30 años los mejores lugares están ocupados desde esa época. En Río Negro hay 850 apicultores inscriptos y en Soriano hay 900 que fueron ocupando lugares de acuerdo a sus posibilidades. Desde hace 10 años que empezó la plantación de eucaliptos, cada predio que compran, significa un desalojo de apicultores con sus colmenas que pasan a ubicarse con suerte en forma "apretada" en zonas donde ya hay colmenas. Resultado: la zona genera la floración que es trabajada por un excesivo número de colmenas, significando una baja de kilos por unidad con el consiguiente resultado económico que los va perjudicando a todos.

6) Posibilidad de contaminación: Es de destacar que el sector apícola se podría ver afectado por la contaminación en la producción de miel por las emanaciones de las posibles plantas de celulosa que se proyectan instalar en la región; tenemos esta duda ya que no hay seguridad de que estos emprendimientos sean inocuos para el ambiente, tenemos la incertidumbre de cual será en este sentido el futuro del sector.-

7) Apicultores que abandonan la actividad: El resumen de todos estos elementos hace que los apicultores más pequeños vayan abandonando la actividad porque su infraestructura no les permite diversificar zonas trasladándose a lugares más lejanos (cantidad de colmenas-vehículos relativamente nuevos, etc.)

Es de destacar que en Soriano existen 100.000 colmenas; el promedio de colmenas por productor es de 112 colonias, por km2 10,4, una producción promedio 30 kgs. y un ingreso bruto departamental por esta actividad de u$s 2:700.000 anuales.-

En lo referente al turismo, que es una de las actividades más importantes a ambos lados del río, el informe dice que aproximadamente la cuarta parte de la fuerza de trabajo de Fray Bentos está afectada a actividades turísticas, en tanto que 1.500 familias de Entre Ríos dependen de esa actividad (pág. 72). Solo en este caso reconoce que "las plantas papeleras [sic] podrían potencialmente afectar al sector turismo" (pág. 88), aunque más que nada por el "clima social adverso" generado por la "controversia" en torno a las plantas (pág. 76) y la "aprehensión general" de la gente "respecto del impacto potencial" (pág. 88). Los consultores apelan entonces a su imaginación para buscar medidas mitigatorias para los impactos y entre otras cosas sugieren que "las chimeneas principales de las plantas también podrían pintarse adecuadamente para lograr que se fundieran con el cielo y reducir el impacto visual" (pág. 77).

Es evidente que uno de los impactos más importantes sobre el turismo sería el olor típico de las plantas de celulosa kraft (descrito a menudo como olor "a huevo podrido"). En su informe, los consultores hacen grandes esfuerzos para aventar dudas de la población al respecto -tal como lo hacen las empresas. Al respecto afirman que "Los vientos prevalecientes son del norte al noreste, lo que limitará cualquier detección de olor a través del río Uruguay hacia el oeste". Es claro que el objetivo es convencer a los argentinos de que el olor no les llegará a afectar. Sin embargo, como cualquier persona sabe, los vientos no corren siempre en la misma dirección. Parece increíble tener que explicar a estos "expertos" que en Uruguay tenemos vientos del este, del sur del sureste, del suroeste además de los que ellos mencionan. Que ni Botnia ni Ence ni la DINAMA los pueden controlar y que habrá muchas ocasiones (impredecibles) en que se dirigirán a la costa entrerriana y al Balneario Las Cañas en Uruguay, ahuyentando a los turistas que llegan en busca de un "país natural". Más aún, en el mismo puente internacional (donde los turistas permanecen hasta 1 hora haciendo los trámites de ingreso), con una fábrica de celulosa a cada lado del mismo, será casi imposible que los turistas no sientan el olor desagradable de las plantas y que ello les decida a no quedarse en la zona, afectando así gravemente al turismo en Fray Bentos.

Aunque hay suficiente evidencia de que fábricas de celulosa de "moderna tecnología" han afectado el turismo, los consultores prefieren ignorarla. El actual alcalde de Pontevedra, Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores, ha afirmado en varias oportunidades que la instalación de la empresa ENCE sobre el río de Pontevedra fue un error dado que perjudicó sobremanera la explotación de los recursos pesqueros, como así también al turismo. En Valdivia, una ciudad turística chilena, afectada por la contaminación de una fábrica de celulosa con tecnología ECF (con tecnología finlandesa de última generación) abierta en enero del 2004, se puede constatar una baja del 35.6% en el turismo de embarcaciones en febrero del 2005 con relación al mismo mes del año anterior (Fuente: Sernatur, Gobernación Marítima), así como la desaparición de la corriente turística que solía ir a la región a visitar un famoso santuario de la naturaleza donde todos los cisnes de cuello negro (su principal atracción) murieron o migraron por la contaminación de la fábrica..

Todo lo anterior no apunta a "mejorar" el informe sino a demostrar su total falta de seriedad (y la falta de ética de quienes lo elaboraron), que lo vuelve totalmente inútil como herramienta para una audiencia pública. Tal como le sugerimos el día 23 de enero a los funcionarios del Banco Mark Constantine, Richard English y Yolande Duhem, el Banco debe exigir a la empresa consultora que mejore sustancialmente su informe para que entonces pueda servir de base para la consulta amplia que el Banco desea realizar. Por dicha razón, el Grupo Guayubira no participará en la audiencia y solo entregará este documento escrito a los funcionarios del Banco para que quede constancia de las razones que motivan nuestra posición.

14 de febrero de 2006 – Grupo Guayubira – Maldonado 1858 – Montevideo – Uruguay
http://www.guayubira.org.uy


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