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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 04:00 GMT
Greenpeace blocks pulp mill boat
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

Baltimar Sirius
The ship had been due to sail from the Chilean port of Talcahuano
The environmental group Greenpeace has blocked a shipment from leaving Chile for Uruguay in the latest stage of a row over two pulp mills.

The mills are being built on the Uruguayan side of the river that separates it from Argentina.

The Uruguayan people and its government welcome the jobs and investment the project will bring.

But Argentinians say they will pollute the river and have been blocking bridges that link the two countries.

Huge rift

The Greenpeace team in small boats managed to stop the Baltimar Sirius from leaving the port of Talcahuano, south of the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Baltimar Sirius
Environmentalists are fighting against the paper mills
They painted "No to the pulp mills" on the side of the vessel.

It was carrying materials for the construction of a pulp mill in Uruguay - a project that has caused a huge rift between Uruguay and Argentina.

The Finnish company Botnia, which is building the factory on the bank of the Uruguay River that separates the two countries, says it will be perfectly safe.

Uruguay is firmly behind the project, but residents on the Argentine side of the river, backed by international environmentalists, say the plant will pollute the river.

And they have been blocking one of the main bridges linking the two countries for several weeks.

The government in Buenos Aires says it will take Uruguay to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for breaking international treaties governing the management of the waters.

President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina has called for the construction work, which is already well advanced, to be halted for 90 days to allow an independent study to be carried out.

The Uruguayan government says that that won't happen.

A small disagreement over a building project has escalated into an international incident and is driving two formerly friendly neighbours further apart.

River row divides former friends
15 Feb 06 |  Americas
Argentina river row ends in court
26 Jan 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Argentina
02 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Uruguay
23 Nov 05 |  Country profiles

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