Construction of Nord Stream pipeline threatens a unique natural site

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Feature story - 14 February, 2013
The new phase of the construction of the gas pipeline "Nord Stream" can destroy the "Kurgalsky" reserve, which is a natural territory under international protection. In this regard, Greenpeace has addressed to the major foreign shareholders of Nord Stream with a requirement to abandon construction projects on this unique territory and to draw attention to the existing alternatives.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), conducted by NGO "Prozrachnyi Mir", has confirmed that the planned pipeline construction works will affect the water area of the "Kurgalsky" reserve. This territory is a wetland of international importance and is protected in accordance with the requirements of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea.

The fact that construction of a new Nord Stream line is dangerous and contradicts the objectives of the reserve, established by Russian law, is recognized by the authors of the project themselves.

For example, one of the main objectives of this reserve is protection of hauling-out sites of gray seals and ringed seals. The EIA states: "The presence of marine mammals in the areas of exploration is of temporary nature during feeding migrations, except for small numbers of gray seals and ringed seals who permanently live in coastal areas of exploration. If the animals appear in the area of ​​exploration works, the noise and vibration of ships and drilling rigs will exert a deterrent effect on them, and will make them avoid the exploration area”. Such activities are in direct violation of the Federal Law "On Specially Protected Natural Areas".

According to Greenpeace experts, the EIA contains certain irregularities. In particular, the document does not propose alternative options for "activities implementation", including a "zero option" (complete refusal of implementation).

The intention to lay the pipeline on the protected area of international importance is fraught with big scandals. It is unlikely to be appreciated by the “Nord Stream” international consortium management, which includes such companies as Gazprom, Wintershall Holding GmbH and E.ON Ruhrgas AG (Germany), NV Nederlandse Gasunie (Netherlands), GDF SUEZ (France) and others. Perhaps this explains why the "dirty work" on discussion and approval of the EIA documents was launched by an unknown company "Svarog".

The “Nord Stream” representatives rapidly claimed that they have no reference to this works: "At this stage, preparation of the EIA for the “North Stream NEXT” project (Nord Stream extention) was not conducted," – states the letter from the official representative of the company, provided at the end of January to the Kingisepp district residents and the ecologists.

A paradoxical situation has formed - the main developer of the project is not aware of the start of exploration works. However, the surprise will be over if we remember that the main shareholder of the “Nord Stream” is Gazprom. The situation with the construction of new "North Stream" lines is similar to Gazprom's pipeline project in China on the "Golden Mountains of Altai" World Natural Heritage site.

In this case, the official representatives of Russia (including the "Gazprom") also claim that there are no decisions on the construction of the pipeline. At the same time, for two years some exploration works are conducted illegally on the territory of the World Heritage site, but they supposedly have nothing to do with Gazprom.

In both cases, the logic is clear – after all necessary investigation works are carried out on the sly, the partners could be faced with the fact: the money is already spent, nothing could be changed.

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