Environmental and social impact assessment

 

UPM’s Paso de los Toros pulp mill project affects most strongly the central and north-eastern regions of Uruguay. These are the relatively less developed regions in the country when considering the number of households below the poverty line, regional competitiveness, social and financial measurements as well as the road network and infrastructure.

 

We strongly believe that industrial investments will positively impact regional development and improve opportunities for education, employment, connectivity as well as availability anand access to services.

A project of this scale brings visible changes in the affected communities. Besides jobs, training and business opportunities for local individuals and entrepreneurs, there will be changes like increasing traffic and social unrest that require mitigation and management.

Potential social impacts have been identifies and UPM continues active dialogue and cooperation with local communities, authorities and other stakeholders to jointly seek solutions to prevent and minimise any potential disturbances and to boost the positive opportunities created.

Environmental and social impact assessment

As part of its due diligence and the national legislative requirements in Uruguay, UPM conducted environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) for the Paso de los Toros pulp mill and the associated plantation expansion as well as for the new pulp terminal in the port of Montevideo.

The impact assessment of the Central Railway project – owned and constructed by the state of Uruguay – was undertaken by the Government of Uruguay, as agreed in the 2017 Investment Treaty between UPM and the Government.

The environmental and social impact assessment for the pulp mill, commissioned from independent third party experts EIA-Estudio Ingeniería Ambiental (Uruguay) and Ecometrix (Canada), consists of descriptions of ​the pulp mill and the receiving environment, stakeholder engagement undertaken​ as part of the ESIA process, identification and assessment of potential environmental and social impacts​ as well as the proposed mitigation and management measures and conclusions.​

The assessments have been approved by the relevant authorities and are publicly available on the website of the Ministry of Environment.

The complete ESIA available here (Spanish)

Key documents include the ESIA (“Estudio de Impact Ambiental”) parts 1 and 2, and the associated annexes, and the ESIA Report Summary (“Informe Ambiental Resumen”).


English translation of key sections of the ESIA here

 
 

 

The main river in the interior of Uruguay

Rio Negro originates in the southern highlands of Brazil and flows west across the entire width of the country. UPM's Paso de los Toros mill will utilize water from the river. The operations require about 1,5 m3 of water per second and around 80% of that goes back to the river, the rest is evaporated.

 
 

Based on the environmental studies conducted by international and local experts for the Paso de los Toros pulp mill and also drawing on the extensive enviromental monitoring data systematically gathered from the UPM Fray Bentos mill for over 15 years, the direct impact of the mill on the Rio Negro River is expected to be minimal thanks to the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT) in all the pulp production processes but especially in the water use and effluent treatment. The long term average annual use of water is less than 1% of the river’s average flow rate in Paso de los Toros. Water effluent will be strictly monitored by UPM and by Uruguay’s authorities.

Existing data from local environmental studies indicate that prior to the start-up of the pulp mill, nutrient load has grown rapidly in the river and its water quality is deteriorating. Improving the quality of the water requires actions from all riverside stakeholders and industries. The State of Uruguay has launched the Rio Negro Initiative to improve the status of the river. Four projects have so far been kicked off within this initiative including research and awareness building on the quality of the river water.

UPM has funded the improvement of the municipal waste water treatment plant and restoration of the municipal landfill in Paso de los Toros as part of its community investments.

One of the main conclusions of the environmental impact assessment is that the existing eutrophication will continue in the river if no measures are taken to improve the water quality​. With the pulp mill and the planned measures, the Rio Negro water quality would remain at the current level​.​ With the implementation of the Rio Negro initiative and ensuring that best practices are carried out by all parties, the water quality could be improved in the medium to long term.

 
 

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