European Business Briefs: Utility merger, canal opening, water details, army contamination

The European Commission has granted clearance under the Merger Regulation to plans by the Finnish gas and electricity utilities Helsingin Energia, Vantaan Energia Oy, E.ON Finalnd Oy, and Lahti Energia Oy to intergrate the latter company s relevant activities into Suomen Energia-Urakointi Oy, a joint venture providing construction and maintenance services for electricity and exterior lighting networks.

The Commission has also said it regrets the reported opening of part of the Bystroye canal between the River Danube and the Black Sea to navigation. The canal route goes through a specially protected UNESCO World Heritage area in the Danube Delta which is also subject to the Ramsar convention on the protection of wetlands. As yet no action by the Commission has been decided upon.

WWF have published an article detailing the campaign against Spain s Ebro Transfer project now abandoned. The article highlights how the need for water for tourism and agriculture often drowns out common sense. The transfer project would have installed dams infrastructure to divert the course of the River Ebro into four other river systems thousands of kilometres away, depriving important wetlands of water, and ruining numerous other ecosystems.

The US Army may be leaving many of its bases in Europe, but it is leaving behind US$90 million worth of clean up costs to remove soil and ground water contamination, congressional investigators have found. A spokesman for the US European Command said that the estimate represents US$72 million in probable damage and US$18 million for spots where contamination is suspected. He said none of these sites constitute imminent or substantial endangerment to human health or safety.

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