Source AP ©

Botnia wood pulp plant meets all regulatory requirements

A Finnish-run plant that has strained relations between Uruguay and Argentina came closer to its opening on Monday as President Tabare Vazquez joined in christening the last of three barges serving the plant.

Uruguayan environmental authorities announced last week that the sprawling Botnia wood pulp plant had met all regulatory requirements, but the start of operations was delayed mediators in the dispute asked Vazquez to hold off for several days.

The Finnish consortium Oy Metsa-Botnia AB and Kymmene Corp. built the plant, part of a US$1.2 billion (830 million EUR) project to create 600 jobs and boost Uruguay's exports by 15 percent.

Argentina has raised concerns that the plant will pollute the Uruguay River border.

Vazquez had no public comments as the barge was christened at Montevideo harbor on the River Plate estuary.

The barge, more than 80 meters (yards) long, is one of three that will ferry finished wood pulp - the basic ingredient for paper - from the plant to a port for loading onto big ships bound for Europe, the United States and Asia.

At the unveiling of the so-called "TFF-3" barge, authorities broke a bottle on the hull containing water from the River Plate and the Uruguay river area where Botnia's plant is located across the river border from Argentina.

Two similar barges are already docked at Botnia's port in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, and all three will be used to ferry finished wood pulp from the plant to a nearby shipping port for export abroad.

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