“The EIA procedure is based on the law and regulations. The aim is to further the assessment of the environmental impact and the assessment’s consistent consideration in an atmosphere of dialogue,” said Matti Prakkula, Senior Officer of the Lapland ELY Centre, in his opening speech at the EIA programme’s public event, which was held at Kemi’s Digipolis on Wednesday 22 May 2019.
“The EIA process and environmental permit are prerequisites for the investment decision, which will be made in the summer of 2020 at the earliest,” said Jari-Pekka Johansson, Director of the Kemi bioproduct mill project.
The potential new bioproduct mill’s environmental impact will be thoroughly assessed.
Kaisu Annala, who is in charge of the Kemi bioproduct mill’s EIA and environmental permit process, talked about the differences between the existing pulp mill and the new bioproduct mill from the environmental perspective.
“The minimisation of any environmental impact on both water and air was one of the most important starting points in the new mill’s planning. The aim for the new bioproduct mill is to operate within the framework of the existing mill’s valid environmental permit,” said Annala.
The condition of waterways, air quality and fish stocks in the Kemi area have been monitored for a long time due to industrial activities, meaning that a lot of data is already available for the new mill’s environmental impact assessment.
“According to the target schedule, we aim to secure the environmental permit by February 2020,” said Annala.
Metsä Fibre’s consultant in the EIA procedure is Sweco Industry Oy, with Reetta Hurmekoski as the Project Manager. According to a preliminary assessment, the bioproduct mill project’s most significant environmental impact involves emissions into the waterways and the air, noise, and the transport of both raw materials and goods.
The audience was concerned about cooling waters and any possible noise pollution. The discussion focused particularly on environmental issues related to the cooling waters and their possible reclamation. The audience wondered whether they would still be able to move about on the ice offshore from Kemi in future winters.
“The place where the cooling water enters the sea will be selected with the help of modelling so we can minimise the environmental impact and find the optimum discharge location,” said Annala.
Warm cooling waters always have some degree of impact on the ice situation, which is why movement on ice will have to be restricted near industrial operations.
The new mill will make efficient use of all heat energy. Heat is released into cooling waters of such a low temperature that they can no longer be used in the process or in district heating systems. The delivery of district heating, on the other hand, requires the mill’s steam, due to which the amount of produced bioelectricity is smaller.
The new location of the bioproduct mill’s debarking department at Sahansaari, closer to a residential area, raised questions about noise.
“The mill and its debarking department will, whatever happens, be built in a way that ensures the limit values set for the noise generated by industrial activities are not exceeded,” said Annala.
Jani Hiltunen, Planning Director of the City of Kemi, said that traffic rezoning, including safety factors, appropriate for all the involved parties was underway. Currently, at the request of Metsä Fibre, the City of Kemi is processing rezoning aimed at improving the mill area’s logistics and transport safety.
“The schedule is tight, and the project requires cooperation between the various parties. Although there are some issues that give us pause, I wish success to the entire project,” said Reijo Viitala, a member of the audience, composed of some one hundred people, in summing up the evening’s discussion.
The EIA programme’s public event was streamed live on YouTube on 22 May 2019, and a video of it is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzhJa8Mko-w.