Environmental Impacts of Nord Stream Construction Minor and Local
The cumulative results of Nord Stream AG’s environmental monitoring in Finnish waters during 2009-2012 confirm that the construction of the pipelines caused only minor and local impacts on the environment.
Nord Stream AG has been conducting environmental monitoring in Finnish waters since 2009. The monitoring results from 2009-2012 confirm that the pipeline construction works, such as munitions clearance, rock placement and pipe-laying had minor or negligible, local and short-term impacts on water quality.
Impact on water quality was one of the major concerns in the planning phase of the Project. Munitions clearance and rock placement were predicted to affect it most. The monitoring results showed that the total amount of sediment released due to munitions clearance was approximately 10 per cent of the assessed volume and only minor increase in turbidity (less than 10 NTU ) was detected in the seawater after the clearances.
The greatest impact on water quality was caused by rock placement. The highest turbidity value (54 NTU) was observed during the installation of the largest rock berm. The impact area was less than 1 kilometre from the construction site and the maximum total duration of increased turbidity during the installation of the largest rock berm was 2.5 days. Overall, the actual impacts on water quality were on the same level or less than had been assessed during the environmental impact assessment and permitting processes.
Spreading of harmful substances was minimal, and bioconcentration of any released contaminants was found to be negligible. After the clearances of munitions no increase in the contaminant concentrations in the seawater was detected. Neither did munitions clearance or rock placement cause any significant increase in the concentrations of contaminants in the sediment. The release of nutrients from the seabed was found to have no effect on the eutrophication status of the Gulf of Finland.
The impacts of construction activities were so minor and local that they have not had any impact on the closest Natura 2000 areas located approximately three kilometres from the pipeline route. They did not have any permanent negative impact on the biodiversity of the open sea habitats in the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), either.
Furthermore, construction works performed in Finnish waters during 2009-2012 did not cause measurable impacts in the Estonian EEZ. The metal and dioxin concentrations in the sediment were generally low. The tributyltin (TBT) concentrations showed large temporal and spatial variation but were generally at a relatively high level. The TBT originates primarily from the antifouling paints formerly used on the hulls of the vessels. There are several shipping lanes in the area.
Impacts of pipeline construction on commercial fishing or ship traffic were minor. The construction activities were carried out in co-operation with the maritime authorities, and third party shipping was guided safely around the construction vessels. There were only two minor incidents in the construction phase, where a third party vessel entered the safety zone of a construction vessel.
During construction, over 20 expert companies and institutes have been involved in the implementation of the national monitoring programmes. Internationally recognized laboratories have analysed the gathered samples. Environmental monitoring during construction and operation covers altogether 16 subjects and 1,000 locations along the whole pipeline route. The results are compiled into monitoring reports that are submitted on a regular basis to the national authorities who oversee that the Project is implemented in compliance with national environmental regulations. Nord Stream AG will invest over 40 million euros in its social and environmental monitoring up to 2016. The monitoring ensures that the environment is not adversely affected.
Press Release, September 17, 2013