Riga City Council gave the green light in just 370 seconds to the construction of Riga Fertiliser Terminal (RFT) at the Port of Riga. There are no problems in regard to the terminal itself – what is confusing is that from the planned annual turnover of 2 million tonnes more than half is ammonia saltpeter which is a hazardous cargo.
In the relevant international code, among the nine most hazardous cargoes, ammonia saltpeter is ranked 5th, outranking such “analogues” as toxic and infectious substances and radioactive materials.
Rīga City Council has given the green light to the annual transportation of 1,050,000 tonnes of hazardous explosive chemicals from the Latvian border to the capital which is equivalent to one train a day. Moreover, Rīga City Council has authorised the concurrent storage of 90,000 tonnes saltpeter in RFT’s warehouses. There is no other port anywhere in the world where the storage of 10,000 tonnes of potential explosives is permitted.
In an interview to the newspaper “Bizness & Baltija”, a whole column was devoted to an interview with the General-Director of “Uralhim”, Dmitry Konajev, who claims that the project will not cause any environmental damage. However, according to conclusion made by the International Socio-Ecological Union and the Independent Ecological Rating Agency, the company „Uralhim”, located in Kirov Region, was the leader of the region’s pollution. Its share was 44% of the pollutants discharged to the Kama River.
Mr Konajev’s contention that production in Rīga will be absolutely ecologically harmless contradicts what has been said in an interview given to the radio station “Business FM” by the Russian Technology Supervision Service Nikolai Kutjin. In it, he openly stated that he suspected that there was a corrupt scheme afoot in the performance of expert analysis of new plants owned by “Uralhim’s” subsidiary Kirovo-Čepeck Chemical Plant. Therefore, he requested a repeated expert analysis.
Konajev also says that after implementation of the project [Riga Fertilizer Terminal], 150 new jobs will be created in Riga. He also promises that the establishment of the terminal will provide the state and its capital with additional funds in the amount of LVL 21.43 million. But it is not clear how exactly Uralhim plans to collect such an amount of money. 21 million is an utopian scenario even if the terminal from the very first day, reaches 100% of its projected capacity, and maintains this operational intensity forever. It should also be pointed out that the Latvian Law “On Tax Application in Free Ports and Special Economic Zones” currently in force provides for a discount of up to 80% on income tax and property tax. And only a mad top manager would refuse to qualify for discounts to the maximum.
Even though, the population of Dieppe is 25 times smaller than that of Riga, for almost three years the French Regional Directorate for Industrial Research and the Environment blocked attempts by the Russian king of ammonia saltpeter to implement the project (here, the State Environmental Supervision Office green lights the projects of “Riga Fertlizier Terminal” without delay). In France, the „Uralhim” project was discussed by political parties and parliamentarians headed by senators from the Green Party Jean De Zessar and Marie-Christine Blondin, members of local government, media, and activists of the International Socio-Ecological Union (here, the so-called public discussion was attended by 29 people of whom 20 were officials).
In Dieppe, the town’s residents hit the streets with placards dedicated to environmental protection, the most polite of which was “Down with “Uralhim” – for the health of our kids!”.
The ammonia saltpeter terminal-warehouse will be built in the immediate proximity of an existing liquid gas terminal, as well as two oil product terminals and a chemical product handling terminal. The cranes operating at these terminals offer an excellent view of Rīga city centre. And the 300 kilometre long route from the Russian border through Latgale to Rīga is practically unguarded.
Full story is available here.