Archive for 2010

Dec 21 2010

Become an Aluminum Scrooge for the World’s Rivers


Lori Pottinger
Huffington Post
21 December 2010

Please, ma’am, just put down the aluminum foil and no one gets hurt.

It’s a little known fact that this simple kitchen product has a Dickensian dark side. So as you serve your guests canned beverages, “tent” your turkey, cover the yams, or wrap leftovers at the end of the party, keep in mind that the aluminum products you’re using have their roots in a dirty industry — one that frankly deserves a lump of coal in its stocking for how it’s mistreating the planet.

The aluminum industry is the world’s largest industrial consumer of electricity, and about half of what it uses comes from hydropower dams. Aluminum companies troll the world looking for big dam projects that can power new smelters, often targeting rivers in ecologically sensitive areas in developing countries, and frequently in places where basic needs for the population’s energy are not being met. Read More

Dec 20 2010
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The Dark Side of Green Power: A Modern Icelandic Saga


In the land of trolls, hidden fairies and enchanted volcanoes, a modern, more sinister power is looming: aluminum smelting and electricity companies Ella Rubeli reports

Iceland is a country in constant change. A volcanic kingdom, since the dawn of time a war has waged between fire and ice. The remote island nation lies across a fissure between the continental plates of America and Europe, which are in constant rift, tearing tissues of earth apart and sporadically releasing surges of lava and gushing geysers. Since man learnt to harness this earthly power, the culture of Iceland has changed dramatically.

Suspended from the ceiling of the world, Iceland is a leading light in renewable energy production. A land of magnificent glacier-carved fjords and heat that blisters up through the earth’s core, it produces energy far beyond its domestic needs – all from hydroelectric power and geothermal plants. But this clean, cheap energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. Read More

Nov 29 2010
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Damning Environmental Assessment of ALCOA’s Smelter Plans for Northern Iceland


November 25th, the joint Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on Alcoa’s planned 346 thousand ton aluminum smelter at Bakki, Húsavík, was finally published. In response, Iceland’s National Planning Agency released an extremely critical commentary regarding the planned smelter and the geothermal plants that are supposed to power it.

It states that:

– Environmental impacts of the project are high and cannot be mitigated.
– 17,000 ha of untouched wilderness will be affected
– Greenhouse gas emissions of the project would constitute 14% of Iceland’s total.
– There is a high amount of uncertainty regarding the full impact of the planned geothermal power plants and particularly their impact of the geothermal energy resource base.
– The assessed energy projects are not sufficient to power the smelter, with 140 MW of capacity missing.

“These reports confirms three key elements of critique that Saving Iceland voiced now several years ago,” says Jaap Krater, a spokesperson for Saving Iceland. Read More

Oct 26 2010

Saving Iceland Supporting the RVK-9 at the Anarchist Bookfair


This video shows the founder of Saving Iceland at the London Anarchist Bookfair, which he attended in order to bring worldwide focus on the case of the Reykjavík Nine and call for international solidarity for them.

A brand new solidarity brochure about the case of the RVK-9 was distributed at the Bookfair as well.

Watch the video below and download the brochure here. Be sure to visit the support site of the Reykjavík Nine at rvk9.org.
Read More

Oct 25 2010
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Support the Reykjavík Nine Brochure


Supporters of the Reykjavík Nine have prepared a brochure in solidarity and support of the RVK-9, as the nine are often referred to.

The nine currently stand trial, accused of having attacked the parliament of Iceland on the 8th of December 2008 and threatened the independence of the parliament.

Read more about the case and the context around it in the brochure, which can be downloaded in PDF format here, or by clicking on the picture above.

Please mail, print and distribute as widely as possible.

Click here to visit the support site for the Reykjavík Nine.

Oct 14 2010
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Bending All the Rules, Just for Alcoa


Following is a short clip from the documentary ‘Dreamland’, made by Andri Snær Magnason and Þorfinnur Guðnason in 2009. Here you can see Friðrik Sóphusson, then head of Landsvirkjun (Icelandic Power Company), telling the American ambassador in Iceland how they are “bending all the rules, just for this” referring to the Alcoa project in Reyðarfjörður.

Oct 14 2010

Geothermal Energy Running Out?


The following article by Nanna Árnadóttir originally appeared on Iceland Review‘s website on the 9th of Október 2010.

About week ago I was faffing about on a whale watching boat—ironically docked across from a whaling boat—for the premier of a short environmental film made by Icelandic legend Ómar Ragnarsson.

For those of you who don’t know who Ómar Ragnarsson is, he’s sort of been everything you can think of: writer, journalist, comedian, TV personality, politician and most importantly now, Iceland’s most prominent environmentalist.

This man is Icelandic nature’s greatest warrior. He has protested, spoken openly about the damage aluminum smelters have done to our countryside and is the most vocal person in Iceland right now about the future of geothermal energy.

I managed to have a conversation with him about it (a shining moment in my life, actually) and he blew my mind. Read More

Oct 12 2010
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Hungary’s worst-ever environmental disaster


The residents described « a mini-tsunami ». A toxic one.

Last Monday, the red mud reservoir of an alumina plant ruptured in Hungary, near Ajka, 165km west of Budapest. As a result, 1.1 million cubic meters of red mud wiped out several villages through waves more than 2 meters high. It flooded 40 square kilometers of land, including affluents of the Danube, then reached one of Europe’s longest river on Thursday morning. So far, 7 people have been killed, 1 is still missing, and more than 150 have been injured, mostly by chemical burns. The death toll is still expected to rise.

As we write these lines, surrounding villages are being evacuated as the structure threatens to break in another point, which would result in another 500 000 cubic meters flooding the area.

The disastrous chemical accident has been declared Hungary’s largest and most dangerous environmental catastrophe, exceeding by far the 130000 cubic meters of cyanide-tainted water that spilled in 2000 in Baia Mare, Romania. Ten years later, traces of cyanide are still found in the area. It is worth noting that this cyanide was in a liquid form, therefore very quickly carried aways by the river whereas the thick red mud will sit there for years, sipping into the ground and reaching ground waters.
Read More

Aug 23 2010
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Battles over Bauxite in East India: The Khondalite Mountains of Khondistan


By Samarendra Das & Felix Padel
(Article for ‘The Global Economic  History of Bauxite’, Canada 2010)

Most critiques of the aluminium industry focus on refineries and smelters, which are among the worst culprits of global heating. But bauxite mining excavates a huge surface area, and has caused environmental devastation in Jamaica, Guinea, Australia, India and recently also in Vietnam.

Perhaps no bauxite deposits are located in more sensitive areas than those in India, whose most significant deposits occur as cappings on the biggest mountains in south Orissa and north Andhra Pradesh. Tribal people live in hundreds of communities around these mountains, which they regard as sacred entities for the fertility they promote. Appropriately, the base rock of these mountains was named ‘Khondalite’ after the region’s predominant tribe, the Konds. Early geologists noticed the perennial streams flowing from these mountains, and modern evidence suggests that their water regime is severely damaged when the bauxite cappings are mined.

Bauxite has probably never been sold for a price commensurate with the damage done by mining it. For Konds and other small-scale farmers in East India, the aluminium industry brings a drastic disturbance to their way of life and standard of living that amounts to cultural genocide. If mainstream society sees these bauxite cappings of India’s Eastern Ghats as resources standing ‘unutilised’, Adivasi culture understands them as sources of life, and sees mining them as a sacrilege based on ignorance. Read More

Aug 18 2010
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Does Man Own Earth?


On Magma, Björk, the separation of philosophy and reality, xenophobia, green industry, false solutions, borders, Earth conservation and liberation. By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson and originally published in The Reykjavík Grapvine, August 13th 2010.

There are countless reasons for Magma Energy not being allowed to purchase HS Orka. Those who have no idea why should quit reading this and get their hands on books like Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’ and documentaries like ‘The Big Sellout’ by Florian Opitz. They show how the privatisation of natural resources brings about increased class division and poor people’s diminished access to essentials—without exception.

People could also study the history of Ross Beaty, the man that wants to build Magma Energy to being ‘the biggest and best geothermal energy enterprise in the world.’ Ross is the founder and chairman of Pan American Silver Corporation, which operates metal mines in Bolivia, Mexico and Peru, where mining is done by the book: environmental disasters, human rights violations, low paid labour and union restrictions, to mention but a few of the industry standards. Read More