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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/9/21

Nord Stream 2 will destroy NATURA 2000 conservation areas in Baltic Sea

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Message Augusts Augustiņš

Nord Stream ceremony.
Nord Stream ceremony.
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Upon reviewing the recently surfaced information on the Kremlin's gas project Nord Stream 2, it has become evident that Germany, Denmark and Sweden have not been able to ensure the health and safety of their citizens or to protect the interests of the people of other Baltic Sea countries. This means that Germany, Denmark and Sweden have given their blessing to Russia to threaten the already fragile ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. It's hard to imagine how Russia was able to secure unconditional support for the project from the Baltic region's "greenest" nations, i.e. Denmark, Finland and Sweden, while it is impudently provoking an ecological disaster in the Baltic Sea.

However, there are some ecological aspects that may still affect Nord Stream 2 and even bring the project to a halt, but that's just utopian philosophy. The Danish Energy Agency approved the construction of the Russian pipeline in Danish waters because the Russians promised that the pipe would be laid only by ships equipped with dynamic positioning systems, i.e. these ships will not employ anchors to maintain position while laying the pipeline.

As time passed, new sanctions were imposed against Russia that also had an effect on Nord Stream 2 - several contractors were forced to cancel their agreements with Russian employers. Regardless, the Kremlin continued talks with the Danish Energy Agency and was able to get what it wants - the requirement for dynamic positioning systems was removed and now ships were allowed to employ their dangerous anchors. Essentially, the Danish government has blatantly fooled the Danish public.

There also is no explanation to the fact that during the project Russia has enjoyed significant support from "normal" countries, since the prohibition of using anchors in the Baltic Sea pertains to all oil extraction platforms, research vessels and foreign commercial ships that lay cables and pipelines. The ban on anchors in the Baltic Sea is one of the most important requirements in protecting the environment and ensuring general safety, as there are thousands of tons of chemical and regular weapons buried there. For this reason, only vessels and platforms that are able to maintain position without the use of anchors are permitted to operate in the Baltic Sea. That's why it's unclear why the Russian lay barge constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is still freely using its 12 anchors in the area where World War II chemical weapons have been dumped, as it can accidentally damage one of the containers containing these weapons and cause an ecological disaster in the Baltic Sea.

It's possible that the disaster has already begun, because in early March a group of chemists and specialists from the UK company Ramora arrived on the Russian ship FINVAL. They were asked to conduct tests in order to determine whether there has been a leak of chemical substances. Experts from the came company also boarded another ship engaged in the construction of Nord Stream 2 - the FORTUNA. It's very likely that during construction someone from the crew had the opportunity to experience the effects of the Third Reich's chemical weapons on his own skin.

There is another important fact that makes one wonder about the corruption present in Germany's highest leadership, since Russians were also allowed to freely use anchors in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Germany and its territorial waters. The Greifswald Higher Administrative Court is still reviewing a lawsuit filed by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DU), a German environmental protection organization. The organization believes that another ecological analysis of the project must be conducted based on a permit issued by the Stralsund Mining Authority that allows to reassess the Nord Stream 2 project. These green troublemakers point out that newest research suggests that the amount of methane that will be released into the environment during its acquisition and transporting contradicts the EU's ecological goals, as well as the Paris Agreement.

German ecologists believe that by giving the green light to the Kremlin's project German authorities have violated a number of German environmental protection laws, as the project will inevitably have a destructive effect on the environment. It was impossible to assess the extent of the damage to the environment and human health before the decision to carry out Nord Stream 2 was made. All "expert" conclusions on the effect of the project to the ecology of the Baltic Sea were exaggeratedly positive, and that's why German environmental activists and ecologists insist that another assessment must be made based on entirely different methods.

These new methods would determine the exact amount of natural gas released into the atmosphere in the areas where the gas that flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is collected. The acquired data would then be used to calculate the same for Nord Stream 2.

At the same time, the Stralsund Mining Authority refuses to give in to the demands of German environmental activists, saying that it will not force the Kremlin to reassess the amount of natural gas released into the atmosphere after the completion of Nord Stream 2.

It's important to note that the Stralsund Mining Authority is responsible for the technical expertise and correct implementation of the Kremlin's project. However, there is little hope that the DU will be able to affect the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project.

This means that, for example, if I own a forest in the NATURA 2000 area, I receive a compensation from the EU, but I'm forbidden from doing anything there. At the same time, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline will be built in NATURA 2000 areas. So, I can't even build a small summer lodge in my property, while for some "unknown reason" the Russians are allowed to construct an entire pipeline system in NATURA 2000 areas and plow the seabed of the Baltic Sea with their 12 anchors each weighing several tons. This smells like big Russian money and big German corruption.

As I already pointed out, the Nord Stream 2 project threatens the EU NATURA 2000 conservation sites in Germany's territorial waters. There are numerous restrictions and requirements imposed on these sites and they are under special control by EU institutions. Is it possible that the Kremlin has also bribed them? Only time will tell. The matter of the fact is that Nord Stream 2 poses and ecological threat and will inevitably destroy nature conservation sites in German territory.

There's another important thing we should consider - Russia's attitude towards the rest of the world. Russia, being a "superpower" doesn't care for anyone else - it's ships FINVAL, UMKA, VLADISLAV STRIZHOV and YURI TOPCHEV consistently violate EU environmental protection laws by ignoring the boundaries of nature conservation sites and by polluting the environment with household waste.

P.S. Does the precedent with Nord Stream 2 grant me the rights to construct a guest house with a sauna near the nest of a black stork family in my NATURA 2000 territory? Another question - why must all ships in the Baltic Sea comply with the international maritime transport rules and environmental protection laws, but the Russians are free to do anything they want?

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