From the St. Petersburg Times:
When a Gazprom-led consortium begins laying the foundation for a major new pipeline to pump Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Western Europe, it is likely to run into problems — thousands of them. The North European Gas Pipeline, or Nord Stream, is due to snake along the seabed over an area covered with hundreds of thousands of unexploded mines and munitions dating as far back as World War I. Officials and environmental groups in several of the countries that border the Baltic say construction of the 1,200-kilometer pipeline threatens to disturb the resting places of the deadly weapons, which include free-floating mines and decades-old canisters of mustard gas. “There are major questions that have not yet been fully addressed by the consortium,” Bjorn Skala, Sweden’s ambassador for small arms, said by telephone from Stockholm. “The proof [of environmental safety] is not yet there.” … Polish Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski last year likened the project to the secret pact made between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the start of World War II to divide up Poland. The country had hoped that instead of choosing the Baltic route, Gazprom would expand the Yamal-Europe pipeline that currently runs across its territory. To push their dissatisfaction at being left out, Poland and the Baltic states may now try to beat Russia at its own game, analysts said. “These concerns over munitions are just politics,” said Lev Fyodorov, the head of the Union for Chemical Safety in Moscow. “There are no scientific or ecological questions here.” That argument is eerily reminiscent of the one that the West leveled at the Kremlin last year, when steadily building pressure by environmental authorities was widely taken as a means of pushing Royal Dutch Shell and its Japanese partners into selling a controlling stake in Sakhalin-2 to Gazprom.