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Ventspils wrangle on anti-pollution plan

It's often the case that local councils fight to make big businesses improve their environmental protection for the benefit of local residents. However a puzzling situation has emerged in the port city of Ventspils which is the reverse of that with the local council reportedly blocking attempts by a major local business to reduce the pollution it causes - and which contributes to the distinctive fragrance the city has when the wind blows from a certain direction.  

A release by Ventspils nafta terminals (Ventspils oil terminal, VNT) said it wanted to install a permanent €5m vapor recovery unit in 2017 and before then had been trying to get permission for a temporary version from Ventspils city council, headed by controversial businessman and political fixer Aivars Lembergs.

“Ventspils nafta” terminals” (VNT), one of the largest taxpayers in Ventspils and the largest contributor to the cargo turnover in the Ventspils Freeport, is planning to invest EUR 5 million in installing a permanent vapor recovery unit (VRU) in the port of Ventspils by November 2017," the company said.

As the name suggests, vapor recovery units are designed to prevent vapors from gasoline or other chemicals escaping into the atmosphere. 

"These invested efforts acknowledge VNT’s commitment towards environmental protection, benefiting the entire local community."

However, the company says that even though it has been prepared to complete the project for years, obtaining a necessary agreement on the use of land in the Ventspils Freeport territory in order to place such a system was "a difficult obstacle to overcome".

In an apparent effort to shame the council into allowing the anti-pollution equipment to be installed and overcome "bureaucratic obstacles," VNT has published two timelines on its company homepage to show the progress of both initiatives.

VNT Managing Director Lars Pantzlaff said: “Building and operating a vapor recovery unit as part of its operations will supplement the number of VNT initiatives focused on environmental protection. VNT looks forward to the needed support from the state and local authorities, as well as the residents of Ventspils to finalize the project.”

Ownership of VNT and inded all associated businesses in Ventspils port has long been the subject of power wrangles among local and national businessmen, not always in the clearest of circumstances.

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