Argentina Seeks ICJ Ruling Over Uruguay UPM Pulp Output Increase

Argentina said it will file a complaint against Uruguay at the International Court of Justice in The Hague after talks broke down over a dispute about a plan to increase output at a pulp plant on the Uruguay river that borders the two countries

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica’s decision to allow UPM-Kymmene Oyj to boost production by 100,000 tons, half of what the company had required, was a “unilateral” decision that threatens to contaminate the river, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said.

“Argentina laments that the interests of UPM are so powerful that they have converted themselves in the factor that determines relations between Uruguay and Argentina,” Timerman said in comments carried on television network CN23

UPM’s $1.1 billion pulp plant was Uruguay’s biggest investment ever when it began operations in 2007. The project fueled protests by Argentine environmental groups, who blocked bridges connecting the countries for about four years because they said the plant would pollute the river.

The company will have to ensure the temperature of the water remains below 31 centigrade and reduce the amount of phosphorus in the water the goes back into the river, according to a statement published on the Uruguayan presidency’s website.

“I’m going to make a decision in the middle,” Mujica said regarding the UPM’s request to be allowed to increase production in a Sept. 26 interview with Bloomberg in New York. “The decision is not simple. It’s a give and take.”

The International Court of Justice ruled in 2010 that Uruguay breached procedural obligations to cooperate with Argentina and the Administrative Commission of the Uruguay River during the development of the pulp mill.

Uruguay didn’t breach “substantive” environmental obligations by authorizing the construction and commissioning of the Orion pulp mill, the United Nations court in The Hague said.

Uruguay needs to follow the procedures set in an accord about the use of the river to approve an increase in the company’s output, Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said Sept. 29 in an e-mail statement.

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