TALLINN 's The Estonian government has refused permission for the builders of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to survey the sea bed in the Estonian exclusive economic zone. The decision was officially announced Sep. 20.
The move will cause a major headache for the Russo-German pipeline, effectively blocking the route through the northern Baltic Sea. Finland has blocked the original route proposed by Nord Stream because of environmental concerns and now Estonia has followed suit.
Though permission to grant the survey would not have entailed permission to proceed with construction, some Estonian politicians are of the opinion that permission would have been a tacit green light.
Academics have also been amongst those warning against allowing the survey to proceed amid safety fears.
Endel Lippmaa, chairman of the council for energy at the Estonian Academy of Sciences said: "If the entire gas that is inside the pipe detonated, the total explosive force would equal that of about 50 Hiroshima bombs."
Lippmaa also warned against the use of outdated nuclear technology in the region. "There are four Chernobyl-type reactors working 80 kilometers from Narva (at the Sosnovyi Bor nuclear power station in Russia) which were decommissioned already when the Soviet Union existed. At the time deadlines were set out which are long past now. The active life of these reactors has been extended simply with a signature. These are extremely dangerous things," Lippmaa told the newspaper.
Lippmaa said that the permission for the underwater survey must not be given, and the Estonian government seems to have listened to him.
The Baltic Times contacted Nord Stream for comment, but a company spokeswoman said that as the company had not yet received official notification from the Estonian government, it declined to comment.