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ECA Watch Austria +++ GLOBAL 2000 +++ Greenpeace CEE +++ The Wilderness Society

Environmental Destruction as Export Hit
Tasmania faces destruction of original forest through OeKB und Andritz

Vienna, 16.10.2008. Following the controversial Ilisu dam in Turkey , the Austrian export credit agency OeKB and Andritz AG are considering involvement in yet another scandalous project - Gunns' Bell Bay Pulp Mill, a gigantic pulp mill in Tasmania. More than 200,000 hectares of primary forest - twice the size of the entire 'Wienerwald', a large forested area surrounding Vienna - are to be logged; in the process 64,000 cubic meters of effluent will be dumped directly into the sea. Luke Chamberlain of the Australian environmental organization 'The Wilderness Society' stated in a press talk today in Vienna: "This is the most controversial project in all of Australia. We urgently request Austria and Andritz to withdraw; failure to do so will severly impact Austria's image in Australia." For ECA Watch Austria this project is another example of how Austria's export economy works: "Ilisu is not an isolated case. Austria's reputation as an environmentally friendly country is being compromised by its willingless to fund environmental destruction abroad", says Ulrich Eichelmann. Greenpeace CEE and GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) spoke out against the project vehemently aswell.

Gunns' Bell Bay Pulp Mill Project has been environmental subject number one in Australia in recent years.  The world's third largest paper- and pulp mill is to be built on the Australian island of Tasmania, with enormous environmental consequences. In order to run the factory, more than 200,000 hectares of primary forest are to be logged in the next 25 years and replaced by plantations. Some of the gigantic trees found in these forests are more than 1,000 years old and more than 100 metres high. 64,000 cubic meters of effluent will be pumped into the sea every day. The consequences for flora, fauna and the human population are unforseeable. Numerous species which exist only in Tasmania, such as the Tasmanian Devil, the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, the Swift Parrot or the Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Lobster, the largest Freshwater invertebrate in the world, will be put in danger.

The project will also have far-reaching consequences for our climate. CO2 that has been stored in Tasmania's primary forests for hundreds of years will be released abruptly. "Through logging and the operation of the plant 10 million tons of greenhouse gases will be released every year. This is comparable to the yearly emissions of all of Vienna, a city with almost 1.7 million inhabitants", explained Lisa Kernegger of GLOBAL 2000.

Several court cases on the project are now pending in Australia.  Australian Banks have refused to give their financial support. Fierce national protests have already lead to the resignations of notable politicians who supported the mill.

Nonetheless Andritz is planning their involvement in the project and wants OeKB to insure their reported 35 million Euro commision. By its own admission, the OeKB is still considering if it will provide a state-backed export guarantee for the project.
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Greenpeace, GLOBAL 2000 und ECA Watch Austria speak out together against this disastrous project. "We will not allow Austrian tax money to be used to help Andritz make a profit by logging some of the world's last primary forests," concluded Jurrien Westerhof of Greenpeace CEE.

Mag. Thomas Wenidoppler
Koordinator von ECA Watch Austria
Tel. 01-812 57 30  Mobil 0650-8225200

ECA Watch c/o GLOBAL 2000
Neustiftgasse 36, 1070 Wien