Archive for 2002

Sep 27 2002
1 Comment

‘Bacofoil Bandits’ by Scott Clouder


bandits

Ethical Consumer.org
September/October 2002

Scott Clouder profiles the company that links BacoFoil with the US treasury secretary, a Mexican sweatshop and an Icelandic wilderness.

At the end of July Alcoa, the world’s largest producer of aluminium, signed an agreement with Iceland’s national Landsvirkjun power company and the Icelandic government to build a large smelting plant in the country’s eastern wilderness. Alcoa is offering to finance the construction of an adjoining hydropower plant in an undisturbed area north of Vatnajokull Glacier, including access roads and a large dam. This will enable it to buy electricity cheaply – which is useful considering around 60 percent of the cost of producing aluminium is the cost of energy. The project is set to be one of the largest investments ever in Iceland, and will change the course of two of the country’s largest glacial rivers and turn various valleys and canyons into reservoirs. All this is proposed for an area which, at three thousand square kilometres, is the second-largest wilderness in Europe. Nature conservation organisations all over the world have campaigned to have the place designated as a national park but the construction will disturb about half of its 22 protected sites of special natural interest and an important reindeer calving area.(1)

Paradise Lost?
Iceland’s State Planning Agency originally vetoed the plan because of the environmental impact, but the decision was overruled by the environment minister, Sif Fridleifsdottir. Read More

May 07 2002

The Great Red Mud Experiment that went Radioactive


Farmer Treasure

The Sidney Morning Herald
By Gerard Ryle
May 7 2002

Quentin Treasure was a member of a local land-care group when he was approached to take part in an unusual experiment by the West Australian Agricultural Department.

The department wanted to spread a reddish substance over his farmland to see if it would stop unwanted phosphorus from entering waterways.

The bonus, Mr Treasure was assured, was not just environmental. He could look forward to vastly increased crop yields using a soil-improving agent that would cost him just 50¢ a tonne.

But this was no ordinary product. It was industrial waste.

The trucks dumping tonne after tonne of the ochre-like material were coming straight from settling ponds at the nearby Alcoa aluminium refinery, which was co-funding the project.

“We never talked a lot about whether it was safe or not,” Mr Treasure said. “We were just told it was dirt from the hills that came from Alcoa. And being a little bit naive at the time, that is all we assumed it was.” Read More