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Nord Stream Verdict: ‘Safe’

The Baltic Sea, the site of Gazprom’s $10 billion Nord Stream pipeline project, is one of the world’s most highly polluted waters.  Nonetheless, Finnish environmental authorities have given their approval for the project – the final green light required in order to give Gazprom the go-ahead – following assurances from Vladimir Putin.  Putin traveled to Helsinki specifically to persuade Finland to back the project, insisting that the pipeline would not harm the sea (this is, by the way, the man who says that ‘nothing‘ can replace hydrocarbons, and dismissed the ‘emotional response‘ of the projects’ many critics…Putin also threw in the promise of extended low duties on timber exports to Finland ‘in an apparent attempt to encourage a positive pipeline verdict‘).  
This might be a lie…or perhaps a clever way of avoiding saying that, whilst the pipeline may not harm the ocean, preparations for construction almost certainly will.  Jochen Lamp, head of the World Wildlife Federation, commented on the news that remotely-operated robots are going to be deployed on the sea bed to detonate just under one hundred Second World War mines, some holding over 300kg of explosives: “When you explode these mines it is harmful to sealife such as seals and porpoises. You also disturb phosphates and other hazardous sediment, which acts as a fertiliser for algae.”  And it doesn’t take millions of dollars worth of environmental research to see that he has a point.
Even beyond these detonations, Estonia’s government remains unconvinced about the safety of the pipeline once it’s been placed. 

“It’s the biggest man-made construct in the Baltic Sea,” said Tapani Veistola, officer at the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. “The main problems are the nutrients and heavy metals spread during construction and that there is no plan for dealing with the pipeline after it’s no longer in use.”

“We still have some doubts” over the project’s impact on the environment, Estonia’s Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said Feb. 10. “The concerns of Estonian scientists have not been adequately answered.”

Keep your eyes peeled for the lawsuits