Archive for April, 2007

Apr 24 2007

Icelandic Government Begs ALCOA Not to Rock the Boat as Landsvirkjun do Not Deliver on Time


Aluminium production in Reydarfjördur begins... using energy from the national domestic grid!

Aluminium production in Reydarfjördur begins using energy from the national domestic grid!

As Saving Iceland and others pointed out a long time ago Landsvirkjun have proven not to be able to deliver energy to ALCOA on 1 April 2007, as specified in their contract with the multinational.

This is highly embarrassing for the Icelandic government and Landsvirkjun, especially as the general elections are coming and the contract they signed with ALCOA specifies that if the energy will not be available on time the Icelandic taxpayer will have to pay penalties to ALCOA.

Apparently the government have begged ALCOA not to mention any penalty payments before the general elections on 12 May. Some weeks ago we had the questionable pleasure to listen to denials in the press that these penalties were ever written into the contract! Yet again, this shows the level of lying that ALCOA and the Icelandic government are ready to stoop to.

Obviously, it is in the interest of ALCOA that the corrupt government which gave them the wilderness of Kárahnjúkar for free, will stay in power.

Aluminium was tapped from the first pot in the new aluminum smelter last weekend. The production process began mid-April.

However, there was a low key ceremony 1 April where the Icelandic PM and other dignitaries cut the red ribbon in the factory (above). But clearly the aluminium lobby felt that making too much of the occasion might backfire PR wise in view of the embarrassing fact that the energy was not coming from Kárahnjúkar, not to speak of the defeat ALCAN experienced in the Hafnarfjordur referendum the night before!

According to mbl.is, 40 pots are expected to be put into operation during this first stage and the smelter will be running 336 pots, its full capacity amount, by the end of the year when the construction of the smelter has been completed.

The smelter in Reydarfjördur has the potential to produce 356,000 tons of aluminum per year. The smelter currently uses 100 megawatts of electricity from the national electricity system, but will need 590 megawatts from the dams in Kárahnjúkar once electricity production begins there… later this year… That is; when Landsvirkjun and Impregilo have scrambled through the last tunnels at what ever the economical and human cost.

Until then, the smelter will not be fully operational and the Icelandic taxpayer will have to foot the bill when ALCOA needs more energy to stay on production schedule (after the elections one can presume!)

For the time being ALCOA hold their breath…

But what about when it comes to the final billing from the “most litigious company in history”, Impregilo?

How much is it going to cost the Icelandic taxpayer when Impregilo have worked out all the delays caused by the deliberately highly inaccurate calculations from Landsvirkjun?

To quote our own SOS: “The Kárahnjúkar project stands as a typical blueprint for international multi-billion-dollar megaprojects where promoters self-servingly misinform parliaments, the public and the media in order to get projects approved and built. The formula for approval is a cocktail of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, undervalued environmental impacts and overvalued economic development effects.”

If we were not talking about Western Europe’s banana republic, then Icelandic politicians and technocrats who are responsible for this disastrous mess, would be made to answer for their actions in court… But of course, as every one in Iceland knows, they have already rigged the courts with their own family members and party lackeys! Read More

Apr 24 2007

Secret Agreement Reached on Energy Sale to Century in Helguvík


Nordurál (Century Aluminum) and Sudurnes Energy Company (Hitaveita Suðurnesja) signed an agreement yesterday on the sale of energy for Nordurál’s planned smelter in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula, west of Reykjavík.

According to the agreement, Sudurnes Energy Company will provide the Nordurál smelter in Helguvík with electricity; it will provide 150 megawatts for the first production stage, which could be used for producing 150,000 tons of aluminum. Read More

Apr 24 2007
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Workers in Kárahnjúkar tunnels reduced to “licking the tunnel walls for water”


tunnel

UPDATE
24 April 2007

Around 180 subterranean workers have become ill from pollution at Karahnjukar and work in 14 km of the tunnels has been stopped by the Icelandic Health and Safety authorities.

High time that the Health and Safety finally did the work they are paid for!

Already in 2005 persistent reports started emerging from Icelandic workers that workers were being forced back into the tunnels by Impregilo way too soon after explosives had been used in them. This breaks all safety regulations.

Apparently Icelandic workers usually refused to go back in until it was relatively safe, but foreign workers had no choice and somtimes had to be carried unconcious back out of the tunnels because of the poisonous air.

Health and safety are now trying to hide behind a ‘lack of legislation in Iceland for this sort of tunnel work’.

The reluctance of the Icelandic unions and health and safety authorities to protect foreign workers at Karahnjukar suggests that there is something seriously rotten in more than one place in Icelandic society.

It seems appropriate now that there be more coverage in Icelandic media about the payments which Impregilo offered in 2003 to deposit in Icelandic union funds!

Exactly which unions received these payments from Impregilo?

Read More

Apr 23 2007

Reuters: Aluminium smelters generate hot debate in Iceland


By Sarah Edmonds
Mon Apr 23, 2007

REYDARFJORDAR, Iceland (Reuters) – Iceland’s biggest and newest aluminium smelter, Alcoa Fjardaal, pumped out its first hot metal at the weekend, riling critics who fear it will damage the environment.

The balance between environmental and economic tradeoffs for Iceland’s three existing and three planned smelters have become a major issue in the lead-up to May 12 elections.

On one side are those who fear unchecked industrial growth will harm the land and economy.

On the other are those who say Iceland must bring in such projects to make use of its abundant but unexportable power-generating resources, such as its geothermal and hydroelectric potential.

The issue has given rise to a new green party, the Iceland Movement, whose platform has a single plank: big industry development must stop for five years until the effects of projects like Alcoa’s Fjardaal are clear.

Author Andri Snaer Magnason said the construction of smelters like Alcoa’s, and the geothermal and hydroelectric plants that power them, has created a “heroin economy.” Read More

Apr 20 2007

Slick oil plans for Westfjords exposed as lying greenwash!


oil spill bird

As if the situation in Iceland was not ‘heavy’ enough these days, a profiteering ambassador (Olafur Egilsson) has come forth with plans to endanger the environment of the Icelandic Westfjords with a giant oil refinery. Not only is this incongruous in view of the recent announcement by the local authorities in the Westfjords that the area is to stay clean of all heavy industry but also because the perpetrators of this project are trying to sell it as “green” “high tech” industry, cunningly trying to avoid the ugly name heavy industry has with the majority of Icelanders.

There is nothing new about this sort of attempts of greenwash by the enemies of Icelandic nature, but this time INCA has exposed their lies.

In a statement released by INCA (Icelandic Nature Conservation Association) they have pointed out the inaccuracies in Egilsson’s and the Mayor of Isafjordur Halldorsson’s arguments in favor of the oil refinery. Egilsson, trying to sell his personally lucrative heavy liquid idea to the nation on a TV show, said that the pollution from oil refineries was only 1/100 compared with that from aluminium smelting and Halldorsson said that it was only 1/10 of the pollution from smelters.

Read More

Apr 20 2007

Does the Black Dog haunt ALCAN after referendum defeat?


Black Dog

17 April, 2007

A strange seal was spotted on the shore by Straumur near the ALCAN aluminium smelter. Its front flippers were deformed, so they looked more like dog feet.

“I have turned sixty and I thought I knew a thing or two about animals, but I never knew seals could have feet,” eyewitness Gunnar Örn Gudmundsson told Fréttabladid.

“I could hardly believe it when I took its picture. They looked like feet on a Labrador dog” Gudmundsson said, adding he believed the seal had been very tired and was resting on the shore.

“I was only about one meter away when it started hissing at me, it was probably completely exhausted,” Gudmundsson explained.

Is it surprising that the poor animal would be feeling a lot less than well and normal after having to swim in the polluted waters of a 240.000 tonnes aluminium smelter?

Read More

Apr 20 2007

Anti-smelter activist begins vigil outside EMA office


University lecturer and anti-smelter activist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh
was forcibly removed from the head office of the Environmental
Management Authority this evening (Thursday April 19) . Read More

Apr 20 2007

Are ALCOA to be given Landsvirkjun on a silver plate?


Illvirkjun

Also known as ‘Illvirkjun’ (Evil Energy)

16 April, 2007

The conservative Independence Party concluded after the party’s general meeting last week that it would like to evaluate the advantages that would come from privatizing the national energy companies.

Not that the Independence Party is exactly known for its concern about equality in Icelandic society but it did conclude that it could be advantageous to shift the ownership of the energy companies from the state to private parties, especially considering competition and equality.

Furthermore, the Independence Party believes Icelandic specialized knowledge and ingenuity will bloom once the energy companies are privatized and enter foreign markets… ehhh… or foreign companies enter them…

This is nothing new. When the conservatives took over Reykjavik Council last year they hurriedly sold the 45% that Reykjavik owned in the National Power Company to the State. This was clearly done in order to prepare the privatization of Landsvirkjun. All in keeping with their policy of robbing the ever sleepy nation of its assets and give them to their rich friends.

But which rich friends of the Independence Party would benefit from dominating the energy industry in Iceland?

Why does the Independence Party still refuse to be transparent about who pays into their party funds?

When are the Icelandic people going to wake up and do something about that they live in a banana republic?

Apr 20 2007

Will Your Party Support the Continued Build-up of Heavy-Industry in Iceland?


In the build up to the 2007 parliamentary elections, The Reykjavík Grapevine asked representitives from each of the political parties to answer questions regarding the most pressing issue; Heavy Industry.

Issue 4, 13 April, 2007
Read More

Apr 17 2007

Brand new Saving Iceland Map


Latest version of the new Saving Iceland map and flier.
Printable and translated versions coming soon…

version 1.41b

version 1.41b