Articles Archive

Jun 04 2005

The Grapes of Vaði – Interview with Guðmundur Ármannsson Farmer at Vað and Host to Saving Iceland Protest Camp in 2005


Issue6_Feature.jpg Grapevine Issue 6, August 2004 with update Jan. 2006

In the 1930s, dust storms swept the southern plains of the United States. The “Black Blizzards,” as they were called, had come about because of overfarming, which had caused the topsoil to wear thin and become dust. Crops failed, and as the banks that held the mortgages realised they would not be getting returns on their interest, farmers were run off of their land. Their plight is immortalised in the songs of Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck’s book “The Grapes of Wrath”, which went on to become a Hollywood film starring Henry Fonda as Steinbeck´s protagonist Tom Joad. Read More

May 15 2005
1 Comment

‘Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Project – Estimate of Profitability’ by Thorsteinn Siglaugsson, MBA


Economist.JPG Prepared for the Iceland Nature Conservation Association
Thorsteinn Siglaugsson MBA
Reykjavik 2002

Extract

Introduction

Landsvirkjun, the state-owned electric power company in Iceland has for some time been planning a large hydropower plant in the area north of Vatnajokull, Europe´s largest glacier in the east of Iceland. The facility would be built to produce electricity for a 390,000 ton aluminium smelter in Reydarfjördur on the east coast of Iceland. Read More

Apr 13 2005

Saving Iceland: The Buck Stops Here


CorporateWatch.org
Newsletter Issue 23 April/May 2005

falki 

In March 2004, the government of Iceland held a conference in the capital Reykjavik. It was a private conference, attended by representatives of the top multinational corporations, Rio Tinto, Alcoa and Alcan among them, and the population were not told about it in advance. Iceland, a government spokesman informed its people afterwards, was now open for business. Read More

Mar 05 2005

Icelandic Wetlands Saved


Thjorsarver.jpg Lowana Veal

The Thjorsarver wetlands in South Iceland have been saved from the ravages of a hydro-electric scheme, at least for the foreseeable future.

Thjorsarver is a wetlands area that became listed as a RAMSAR site in 1990, principally because it is home to the world’s largest breeding ground for pink-footed geese, 6-10,000 breeding pairs. But many other birds nest there too, such as the purple sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, dunlin, Arctic tern, Arctic skua, ptarmigan, golden and ringed plovers, snow bunting and long-tailed duck. Botanically, it is home to 167 species of vascular plants as well as mosses and lichens, some of them rare. The insect life is rich.

Paradoxically, the designation of RAMSAR and nature reserve status should mean that the area be left untouched – but those with vested interests appeared to disregard this point. Read More

Mar 04 2005
3 Comments

Ice Burks! – Schnews


bergrisi.jpg This article served as a follow-up to  the ‘Power Driven’ article published in the Guardian in November 2003.

Schnews, 4th March 2005, Issue 487

Super-cool Iceland, the eco-tourist’s wet dream, right? Maybe not for much longer if the Icelandic government has its way.

You see, they’ve got a cunning plan to turn the whole country into a heavy industry paradise for all sorts of multinational scum, damming and flooding and generally trashing nature to power up a bunch of giant aluminium smelters and other slight blots on the landscape.

This is not an early April fool – it’s already started. The construction of the giant Karahnjukar dam in the Icelandic Highlands – one of Europe’s last surviving wildernesses – is well under way. Landsvirkjun (the national power company, a government quango) has a raft of further projects that would see 25% of the entire country dam affected by 2020: some vision. Read More

Feb 26 2005
1 Comment

Environmental Impact of the Kárahnjúkar Dams


throng

 

The Kárahnjúkar Power Plant is the largest industrial development in Iceland’s history. Roughly 3% of the total area of Iceland, approx. 290,000 ha, will be impacted by the project, not including areas of secondary impacts, such as windblown dust, long-term erosion, downstream or coastal silt and soil deposits, alterations in groundwater characteristics in peripheral areas with resulting changes in vegetation and wildlife habitats. Read More

Feb 26 2005

Hydroelectric Power’s Dirty Secret Revealed – New Scientist


Map showing overview of significant GHG production from dams per country Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of CO2 and methane – some produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuel power plants.

Duncan Graham-Rowe, New Scientist, 26-2-2005, issue 2488

Contrary to popular belief, hydroelectric power can seriously damage the climate. Proposed changes to the way countries’ climate budgets are calculated aim to take greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs into account, but some experts worry that they will not go far enough.

The green image of hydro power as a benign alternative to fossil fuels is false, says Éric Duchemin, a consultant for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Everyone thinks hydro is very clean, but this is not the case,” he says.

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels. Carbon emissions vary from dam to dam, says Philip Fearnside from Brazil’s National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus. “But we do know that there are enough emissions to worry about.”

“Reservoirs convert carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into methane, which has 21 times the warming effect” Read More

Jan 26 2005

Iceland Under Attack – Threatened Protestors Raise Stakes, Call for International Protest


029_fh_sauda05-2.jpg Sauðárfossar – Amongst numerous waterfalls destroyed by the Kárahnjúkar dams

Corporate Watch

“Nobody can afford to allow the divine Icelandic dragon of flowers and ice to be devastated by corporate greed”

People in Iceland are calling for an international protest against the building of a series of giant dams, currently under construction in the eastern highlands of Iceland. The dams are designated solely to generate energy for a massive aluminium smelter, which will be run by the US aluminium corporation Alcoa and built by Bechtel.Not a single kilowatt of energy produced by the dams will go for domestic use. Alcoa is seizing the chance to relocate to Iceland after costs of producing aluminium in the US soared. Read More

Aug 04 2004

Kárahnjúkar – Some Facts About the Project


ji_gljufur0673.jpg Robert Jackson

It is now two years since the government gave the approvals that made way for the creation of a huge hydroelectric scheme in the Central Highlands at Kárahnjúkar. This paved the way for a subsequent deal with Alcoa for the building of an aluminium smelter in the coastal town of Reyðarfjörður.

WHAT DOES THE SCHEME INVOLVE?

The Kárahnjúkar project will consist of nine dams, three reservoirs, seven channels and sixteen tunnels. It will divert two large rivers, the Jökulsá á brú and Jökulsá í Fljótsdal, and several smaller rivers to the north of the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. The main dam will be highest rockfill dam in Europe, 190 metres high, 800 metres long and 600 metres wide at its base. This main dam will create a huge reservoir, to be called Hálslón, which will flood a wilderness area of 57 sq. km. 70 km of tunnels will carry water to an underground powerhouse, which will have a 690 megawatts capacity. Read More

Jul 21 2004
1 Comment

The Bad Neighbor – Alcoa’s Dirty Dealing in Central Texas by Esther Cervantes


0704cover“…some Alcoa Rockdale employees… were offered a choice between early retirement or transfer to Iceland.” So much for job creation for the people of Eastern Iceland!

Dollars and Sence
The Magazine for Economic Justice

Issue #254, July/August 2004

Earlier this year, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) broke ground on the $83 million Three Oaks lignite mine outside Austin. The mine will provide coal to Alcoa’s massive facility near the town of Rockdale: an aluminum smelter plus the three power plants that fire it. In addition to the lignite, Alcoa intends to remove groundwater from the new mine (as well as from its existing mine at Sandow, near Rockdale) and ship it to the city of San Antonio, more than 100 miles away. In a company report celebrating the Rockdale smelter’s first 50 years, manager Geoff Cromer thanks the facility’s neighbors for “the strong support we have received from the community”—but that’s less than half the story. The “several hundred people” who “took time from their jobs” to attend numerous public hearings and “provide comment in support of Alcoa and this project” were far outnumbered by those who struggled against it for four years. Read More