Environmental impact assessment of gas pipeline from Russia to Germany should be more complete
Ministry of the Environment and Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre have stated
According to the environmental authorities, the environmental impact assessment for the planned gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea is too general. The Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre has presented its statement today to German and Russian-owned Nord Stream AG, which is responsible for the development and construction of the offshore pipeline that will cross the Finnish exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Ministry of the Environment also commented on the project as a whole to Germany, Denmark, Russia and Sweden, which are participating in the international environmental impact assessment. The statements are in line with each other.
The assessment programme is a plan drafted by Nord Stream AG, and it includes the required studies for the environmental assessment and for the implementation of the assessment. The most significant environmental impacts from the 1200 kilometre pipe will occur from construction work, because in the past decades high levels of pollutants have accumulated in the seabed of the Baltic Sea.
The proposed pipeline routing follows the outer limits of Finland's exclusive economic zone at a noticeably close proximity. According to the environmental authorities no environmental justifications have been given for the proposed routing or alternatives proposed for the pipeline routing. The project has not been described with precision, and it fails to specify how and where the trenches will be dug, quarried and filled in connection to the construction process. Furthermore, information on the state of the seabed is not sufficient to define the required studies.
Because the Gulf of Finland is an ecologically sensitive area and already highly polluted, the environmental authorities consider it of utmost importance to find the least environmentally harmful alternative for planning the routing and building the pipeline. The assessment programme fails to demonstrate that the selected routing presents the least harmful alternative for the Gulf of Finland.
The topography of the seabed of the Gulf of Finland is challenging as a construction site; the seabed is uneven and the location of the pipeline requires the levelling and filling of the seabed. To the south of the projected pipeline the seabed of the Gulf of Finland is deeper and more even.
The Environment Centre received over 50 statements and comments
In its statement, the Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre provides observations on the area of impact, dumped weapons and munitions, maritime traffic and shipwrecks, the requirement for the expansion of the Natura 2000 network, the fauna in the impact area and questions relating to fishing. The Environment Centre also requests that the materials be made generally available for the sake of transparency.
The proposed schedule for the environmental impact assessment of the gas pipeline is tight. It predicts that the final report for the assessment will be completed by August of this year. The authorities require that the schedule of the project be checked in accordance with the additional requirements.
The assessment programme was available for viewing until the end of January, and as the national coordination authority the Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre received over 50 related statements and comments. The majority of the statements came from other ministries and authorities, municipalities and organizations. Five comments were submitted by private persons.
Ministry of the Environment: Impacts on the eastern Gulf of Finland should be clarified thoroughly
The Ministry of the Environment has informed Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Russia of its willingness to participate in the international environmental impact assessment (EIA) in accordance with the Espoo Convention.
In its response regarding the project in its entirety the Ministry of the Environment emphasizes the same points as the Uusimaa Regional Environment Centre. According to the ministry it is particularly important that the impacts of the pipeline on the state of the eastern Gulf of Finland are thoroughly investigated.
The Ministry of the Environment has received the responses from Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland regarding the project, and all of them have expressed their willingness to participate in Finland's EIA procedure. The viewpoints presented in the responses largely correspond to those of Finland. Russia has not yet submitted its response.