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On Tuesday 14th March 2006 in solidarity of the ‘Day of action against dams’, the ‘Pure Iceland’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London was the focus of activists highlighting the heavy industrialisation and destruction of Iceland’s natural resources. Saving Iceland stickers were plastered around the exhibition of “pure” lies, especially focussing on Landsvirkjun the Icelandic National Power Company’s sponsorship plaques at the exhibition. Information boards and leaflets were subverted with a few “pure” truths about the Icelandic government’s sell out to the international aluminium industry. A Saving Iceland poster also managed to find its way up onto the huge billboard sized map of Iceland in the centre of the exhibition, marking the place where the Behemoth and environmental catastrophe, Karahnjukar dams is being constructed. Saving Iceland leaflets were handed out and many people were interested in discussing the issues of Icelandic Government’s and corporations lies and corruption.
Many people shoved support for the action and some expressed interest in coming to this years’ summer camp.
The Saving Iceland European popular education and workshop tour continues into Spain today. After an amazing welcome in Ireland at the Anarchist Bookfair in Dublin and then with such an inspiring and successful visit to the Shell to Sea campaign at Rossport in the North West of Ireland the tour hopes to continue in the same vein, discussing the issues around heavy industry, climate change and the industrialisation and corporate sell off of our environment. We have already seen many links between the Saving Iceland campaign and other campaigns so far and hope to report more on similar struggles and the links and friends we make along the way as the weeks unfold. Read More
3 March 2006
Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, continues to report on public reaction to the announcement earlier this week of a memorandum of understanding between Alcoa and the Icelandic government concerning a feasibility study for a new aluminum smelter near Húsavík.
RÚV quotes professor of economics and director of the Economics Institute at the University of Iceland, Tryggvi Thór Herbertsson, saying that the Icelandic economy is unable to handle all the projects currently being planned.
In addition to Alcoa’s proposed new smelter, Alcan and Century Aluminum are also reported to be interested in adding capacity to their existing operations in Iceland.
Other proposed state-sponsored projects include a new hospital in Reykjavík and a new road from Reykjavík to Kjalarnes, the so-called Sundabraut.
According to RÚV, Tryggvi Thór said that “nobody thinks we can carry all of [the proposed projects] out at the same time…that would be far too much.”
Jón Bjarki Bentsson at Íslandsbanki’s research department said to RÚV that if the smelters are built other export industries would run into trouble. He also said that the Icelandic economy was flexible and had adjusted well in the past, both to downturns and upswings. If the projects were to move ahead, Icelanders could expect high interest rates and a high exchange rate, said Jón Bjarki.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Pittsburgh organizations dependent on philanthropic funding from Alcoa Inc. should remember that this is not your father’s aluminum company.
Alcoa, created in the Pittsburgh region in 1888, has been a fine corporate citizen. The Alcoa Foundation it created in 1952 had been very generous to local nonprofit organizations. The foundation contributed $4.1 million in Western Pennsylvania in 2001. But only $1.5 million last year. Read More
Alcan has announced that it may well pull out of Iceland if it does not get the go-ahead to expand its factory at Straumsvík. The announcement was made after talks between Alcan and the PM Asgrimsson. Alcan would appear to have been pressuring the Icelandic Government into making available electricity to support the expansion program. This would entail the building of more dams and thus continuing the ongoing ecological destruction of the Icelandic wilderness.
This is a clear example of a large corporation attempting to exert economic dominance over a small democracy, a tactic echoed throughout the world where corporations gain ground to unduly influence goverments economic policy.
Saving Iceland rejoices at the idea of ALCAN leaving Iceland for good. They should also have the decency to leave India and the long suffering Adivasi people of Kashipur in peace. See www.kashipur.info
Celebrations have been announced in Reykjavik.
The Reykjavík offices of the much loathed Landsvirkjun, the Icelandic National Power Company, were gatecrashed by over thirty angry young people who banged drums, shouted and blew whistles in defiance against Landsvirkjun, heavy industry and ecocidal dams in the Icelandic highlands. Some held a banner with the by now famous subversion of the company name: ILLVIRKJUN (Evil energy.)
A Landsvirkjun PR man complained there was no interest from the group of protesters to enter into dialogue with him. Seems like he and his bosses need a few more visits like this to get the point that by now it’s too late for any friendly “dialogue.” One of the youths stated they had had: “Enough of spins and propaganda based on greenwash, lies and manipulated information.”
It is unlikely that Landsvirkjun’s crimes against the Icelandic environment and against democracy will be forgiven by coming generations. “We demand an independent investigation into the affairs of Landsvirkjun and ultimately its utter annihilation as a company.” Read More
Mar 03 2006
Tjórsárver are certainly not safe yet. Since the below was written the Conservatives have taken over the majority in Reykjavík City Council. They hurriedly sold the council’s 45% share in Landsvirkjun to the State. Since that Landsvirkjun have announced that they want to go ahead with destroying Thjórsárver. However, they first want to make three dams in the lower part of the river of Thjórsá. This is also opposed by many people, including locals. Work on the three dams is due to start in the autumn of 2007. They are to provide energy for the enlarged ALCAN factory at Straumsvík in Hafnarfjörður. The people of Hafnarfjörður will vote in a referendum on this enlargement 31 March. It seems the inhabitants of Hafnarfjördur hold the fate of Thjórsá, Langisjór and Thjórsárver in their hands. If they vote in favour of ALCAN the rest of the Icelandic nation and the international community will have to step in.
Less than an hour after ALCOA’s New York announcement about a new smelter in north Iceland 30 young people stormed the ALCOA head office in Reykjavik. They staged a noise demo and demanded ALCOA should withdraw any plans for the Husavik smelter in the north of Iceland, that ALCOA immediately stopped building the smelter in Reydarfjordur, that ALCOA should get out of Iceland for good and that all further plans for any heavy industry in Iceland be abandoned.
The protesters got past security by making enquirees about ALCOA’s policy regarding jobs for disabled people. Once the protesters were in the offices the ALCOA staff called the police who got violent as they ejected the protesters. Apparently the ‘Viking’ squad turned up and two people were hurt. According to the National Broadcasting Service one protestors’ camera was seized (illegally) by the police.
Alcoa announced today that they would possibly want to build a $1-billion aluminum smelter in North Iceland. The proposed site is about 2 kilometers outside the town of Húsavík. An area famed for strong earthquakes. (See ‘A letter to ALCOA…‘)
The decision comes after an examination of three potential locations in Iceland, including sites near Skagafjördur and Akureyri. The Husavík location was chosen in part because of the area’s potential to use geothermal activity to supply energy for the smelter, according to Alcoa representative Jake Siewert. This is clearly a greenwashing opportunity ALCOA just can’t miss.
“We don’t think there’s another aluminum plant in the world that’s powered exclusively by geothermal,” says Siewert. “And that would make this really a first of its kind.”
He added that ALCOA felt very “welcome” in Iceland and that in spite of the fact that the majority of the nation do not want to see more heavy industry in their country and half the nation think that the Karahnjukar dams are a terrible mistake.
If approved, ground would be broken outside Husavík around 2010. The smelter would generate 250,000 metric tons per year, smaller than Alcoa’s 340,000 metric ton smelter being built today in east Iceland.
The disregard for environmental considerations and low cost of energy (the price is kept secret) offered by the Icelandic government make the country very attractive for global corporations such as Alcoa, Alcan, Century and R&D Carbon to set up mega-projects.
Last week, Alcoa also entered into an agreement with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to build a $1.5-billion aluminum smelter. See ‘Alcoa facing growing protests over proposed Trinidad Smelter’ in News.
Perhaps this feeling of being so “welcome” in Iceland had something to do with the decision of the ALCOA directors not to come to Iceland this time around to make their announcement. Just in case many Icelandic people would take to the streets yet again to protest against ALCOA’s pressence and tell them to to go to hell.
Feb 28 2006
At the time of writing around thirty protesters are blockading the entrance to the Runcorn Alcoa factory near Manchester. Seven people have locked onto each other with armtubes and for nearly three hours all traffic to and from the factory has been blockaded.
Alcoa are being targeted because of their involvement in the Karahnjukar dam projects. The campaign is growing and intensifying as the Icelandic government and Alcoa’s plans for devastation of the Icelandic landscape expand. Tomorrow Alcoa will announce whether they intend to build another smelter in the North of Iceland, a decision we feel should be made by the people of Iceland rather than a foreign corporation.
Recently a third of the workers at the Runcorn factory have been made redundant, according to them to get cheaper labour. Workers passing by our protest have all been very polite and many have wished us luck. The protest has been peaceful.