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29 May, 2008 01:34

Transit states go green to sink Nord Stream pipeline

The planned Nord Stream project, which will bring Russian gas to Europe through a pipleline under the Baltic Sea, is once again in the firing line. The EU Petitions Committee has called for a study to assess the environmental impact of the $US 12 billion

The Committee report came in response to appeals from Polish and Lithuanian environmental associations, which claim that the pipeline could harm marine eco-systems.

The report stressed the potential threat to the environment posed by disturbing chemical weapons stocks from World War Two dumped in the Baltic.

But environmental concerns are less substantial than economic considerations, according to Tatyana Mitrova, head of the Energy Research Institute.
“It’s obvious that Poland is a loser in case of Nord Stream construction because it’s losing its transit fees. So the reasons are very clear, and the means that Poland uses to fight against this project are very typical,” Mitrova said.

Analysts say the previously planned projects crossing the Baltic Sea, but not bypassing Poland, never met any opposition from Warsaw.

Many people think that the economic necessity of the pipeline is likely to prove too strong for those countries looking to resist it.

But, they might be wrong. Paul Vandoren from the EU Commission delegation to Russia says the environment must be protected.

“Economically speaking this is a very important project but it shouldn’t be introduced at any cost. It’s normal that all the aspects including environmental aspects are looked at very carefully,” Vandoren said.

Nord Stream’s developers say the Petitions Committee report is misleading and makes a number of factually incorrect claims.

They say an independent Environmental Impact Assessment for the project has already been completed and it will be made publicly available later this year.