Pipeline company to test Baltic bottom mud in May

Business News
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Mar 22, 2007, 14:31 GMT

Hamburg – The Russian-German joint-venture company which plans to build a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea said Thursday it would be taking more samples of sea-bottom mud from May as it compiles an environmental-impact report for Baltic governments.

Nord Stream said the first stage of international consultations on the pipeline project had been completed. The pipe will enable a sharp increase in exports of Russian gas to fire German power stations, heat homes and run factories.

The company had received 129 submissions from authorities, environmentalists and other groups in the Baltic region. Most came from Finland (50), Germany (29) and Sweden (29). Others came from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia.

While Poland is mainly concerned that the undersea pipeline will sidetrack its overland pipelines, Nordic nations are especially worried that construction work will stir up toxic substances in the mud or disturb dumps containing World War Two chemical weapons.

Danish, German, Finnish, Russia and Swedish officials meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Stockholm had called for a report showing the pipeline’s impact on the Baltic Sea as a whole, Nord Stream said.

The joint-venture company said it would now go back to sea-bottom sites that had been deemed especially sensitive and collect samples of sediment there in May and June.

Nord Stream said the pipe would not be buried in the seabed, but rest on the sea-bottom.

To assess the impact on Baltic fishing, scientists would also test in April and May what would happen if trawler nets were dragged across the tube. Nord Stream is to pay for training programmes for Baltic fishermen on how to safely fish near the pipeline.

A research ship would also drag sonar instruments and a metal detector this summer along the pipeline route near known ammunition dumping sites to see if any chemical bombs were in the path of the pipeline.