The Austrian company seems to ignore a law in Bashkortostan

Feature story - 26 August, 2013
Greenpeace experts note exacerbation of confrontation between the locals and Austrian company "Kronospan" in Ufa.

Peaceful protest in Ufa

The story of environmental and social protests began in August 17, 2012, when the government of the Republic of Bashkortostan signed with the Austrian company "Kronospan" investment agreement on construction of wood processing plant. The plant's capacity is 3 million cubic meters of wood, launch is planned for 2016.

 Construction started in complete information vacuum, which naturally caused a wave of outrage from the locals. People There were no any public hearings, and project documentation including EIA was not available for people and even not passed obligatory state expertise.

 According to the Urban Development Code of the Russian Federation project documentation for capital construction is a subject of the state expertise. It has to evaluate the safety of the planned facility, including environmental. The project can not be implemented without the positive conclusion of state expertise, but the construction of “Kronospan” facility has begun. The company's management admits this fact - as Director of "Kronospan Bashkortostan" Ardasher Kurbansho reported to "Kommersant", state expertise is going to be passed in September.

Russian Law "On Environmental Protection" requires to make an environmental impact assessment of the planned projects, and it must include the results of the public hearings. According to "Kommersant", the Government of Bashkortostan considers project approval with population optional.

Local people organized a peaceful protest camp near the construction site in order to stop the dangerouse production. They sent a lot of appeals to the regional government, held single pickets, started collecting the signatures on a petition, and arranged different concerts and bike rides against “Kronospan” project. But company and government ignored public opinion as well as a law, and forced people to block the access roads to the construction of the plant. Lately bailiffs came to the camp demanding to free this land "for cultivation of crops" as it was a requirement of unknown “land owner”. The locals continue to oppose illegal construction of the dangerous production in Ufa region.

According to the Romanian NGO "Independent Center for Environmental Protection", daily emissions of chemicals from the production of "Kronospan" in Sebes reached 36 million cubic meters, and 1 000-5 400 kg of wood dust. The company  had repeatedly prosecuted and fined for exceeding permitted emissions.

 "Kronospan" activity in other countries, particularly in Romania, also was accompanied by civil protests, fines for environmental pollution and lack of environmental expertise. It means that the confrontation with society, as it is in Ufa, has become a tradition for the Austrian company.

Greenpeace Russia has sent an appeal to the Bashkir environmental prosecutor's office to take measures on violations of laws of the Russian Federation.