Swedish concern over Baltic gas pipeline

The Swedish government said on Friday it was concerned about German-Russian plans to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, fearing the environmental impact.

“Both the environment minister and the prime minister have expressed concerns about the environmental consequences,” Lena Berglund, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister Lena Sommestad, told AFP.

Construction of such a pipeline could “disturb the Baltic seabed (and) dislodge toxic materials and other things on the bottom which the Baltic could not cope with since it is a particularly sensitive sea,” she said.

The impact on bird and marine life in the Baltic Sea is also a concern, she said.

Prime Minister Göran Persson was quoted on Thursday by the Swedish news agency TT as saying: “There is every reason to warn against the pipeline stretch that the construction consortium has proposed.”

“When you build a gas pipeline this big on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, you’re going to dislodge a lot of the sediment on the seabed, where there are mines, toxins and other stuff … in addition to all the other environmental problems the Baltic Sea already has,” he said.

The 1,200 kilometre natural gas pipeline would link Saint Petersburg to Greifswald, Germany, according to TT.

According to the environment ministry, the construction consortium – made up of Russian energy giant Gazprom and German companies BASF and E.ON – is expected to submit a request to build the pipeline accompanied by an assessment of the potential environmental impact.

“Once we receive this request … the government will look very closely at the assessment of the environmental risks,” Berglund said.