March 2, 2006

Greenpeace blocks Uruguay pulp plant boat

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Environmental group Greenpeace
said on Thursday its members prevented a boat from leaving a
Chilean port with materials to construct a controversial wood
pulp plant in Uruguay.

The construction of two large wood pulp mills in Uruguay
has sparked environmental concerns, protests and a diplomatic
crisis between Uruguay and Argentina, which is worried runoff
from the plants would contaminate waters shared by both

Greenpeace said 11 members of its group participated in the
action to stop the Baltimar Sirius and one was chained to the
boat's anchor on Thursday in the port of Talcahuano, 330 miles

south of Santiago.

"Our petition is that (the company) stops building the
plants," Samuel Leiva, coordinator of Greenpeace's toxics
program in Chile, told Reuters by telephone from Talcahuano.

Leiva said the protest would continue until Greenpeace
received a response from the company building the plants, or
until Chilean naval authorities removed the protesters.

He said Greenpeace also called on Argentine President
Nestor Kirchner and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez to meet
to find a diplomatic solution and also one that would not harm
the environment.

Uruguay has rejected a plea from Kirchner to temporarily
halt the construction of the plants.

Greenpeace blocked the same building materials earlier this
year when they were in Argentina awaiting transport to Uruguay
by land. The materials were then rerouted to Chile to be sent
to Uruguay by sea.

The $1.7 billion wood pulp plants project on the Uruguay
River is one of the biggest investment projects in Uruguay's

The mills, to be built by Finland's Metsa-Botnia and
Spain's Ence, are expected to produce 1.5 million metric tonnes
of wood pulp for export after they begin production in 2007.