'Greenwash' Tag Archive

Aug 29 2005

Iceland: Dam Nation by Merrick


Hjalladalur 

With the growing awareness of climate change, carbon emission restrictions may not be too far off. Because countries that pollute the most may well get the heaviest restrictions, rather than seeking to reduce their emissions many industrial corporations are looking to move operations abroad.
Iceland, despite modern European levels of education, welfare and wealth, has almost no heavy industry. Their carbon rations will be up for grabs. Seeing the extra pollution coming, in 2001 Iceland got a 10% increase on the CO2 limits imposed by the Kyoto treaty. The problem is that the lack of heavy industry means a lack of the major power supply needed for such things. But Iceland has glacial rivers in vast areas unpopulated by humans; land for hydroelectric dams that can be seen as carbon-neutral. Read More

Jul 19 2005
2 Comments

Violent Repression of Peaceful International Protest


pigs

Icelandic police order drivers to start machinery risking protestors’ lives.

Police and security guards at the Karahnjukar Dam construction site in Iceland, last night ordered the bulldozers drivers to start their engines and move off, despite there being more than 25 people locked on to the underside of their vehicles.

“It was terrifying, if someone hadn’t jumped up on the front of the truck and pulled out the fuel line then I think people may have been killed last night” said Rob, one of the protesters from the UK. Read More

Jun 20 2005
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Answers from those Arrested at Hotel Nordica 14 June 2005


Answers to common questions about the ‘skyr action’ at Hotel Nordica 14 June, 2005.

 

the messenger 

Why this conference?

* It was a conference for aluminium and the related industry leaders from all over the world.

* They were here because they think Iceland is right for heavy industrial development. Ironically, this is down to its clean environmental record.

* The people gathered there were key decision makers, financiers and policy drivers behind the Karahnjukar project and other heavy industry developments across Iceland which we oppose.

* A session entitled “An Approach to Sustainability for a Greenfield Aluminium Smelter” started at 11:45 on the day. Hosted by Joe Wahba of Bechtel Corporation and T.M. Sigurdsson of Alcoa, the outrageous hypocrisy of the seminar was extremely provocative to those who truly aspire to the ecological value of sustainability. Read More

Jun 14 2005
3 Comments

Alcoa and Bechtel Greenwashed!!


Saving Iceland
June 2005

Whitewashing efforts by multinational vandals Bechtel and Alcoa were thwarted when environmentalists decided to Greenwash THEM instead.

Update: Paul Gill was released Saturday morning. He is to be detained in the country for two weeks and has to report twice a day to the police station in Reykjavik, which is unprecedented!

Delegates at the 10th World Aluminium Conference on Tuesday 14th June in Reykjavik were happily nodding and snoozing their way through a hypocritical sermon enjoying the oxymoronic title ‘An Approach to Sustainability For A Greenfield Aluminium Smelter’ when they suddenly found themselves rudely awoken by a group of protesters who ran in and drenched the speakers – industry fat cats Joe Wahba (Bechtel) and Tomas Mar Sigurdsson (Alcoa)- in green skyr (a kind of Icelandic runny yoghurt). Numerous other delegates were also spattered with the stuff. Read More

Apr 17 2005

SOS Saving Iceland Audio Interview


The founder of Saving Iceland/NatureWatch, Olafur Pall Sigurðsson, interviewed here on Radio IndyMedia.org.

 

 http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/04/3…

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 04 2005
3 Comments

Ice Burks! – Schnews


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.

Karahnjukar and most of Landsvirkjun’s future schemes harness glacial rivers fed by Vatnajokull – the biggest non-arctic glacier in the world. This glacier is the heart of a fantastically intricate eco-system: barren red and black Martian landscapes; geo-thermal springs and pools hot enough to take a bath in; rivers banked by deep, springy emerald green moss woven with tiny red and yellow flowers where no-one’s ever walked; the glacier’s own fantastic ice caves; seal breeding grounds on the black sand deltas to the north. All this will be destabilized and damaged forever if these dam projects are allowed to happen.

An international protest camp this summer aims to halt this war on nature. It’s going to be one hell of a struggle since the Icelandic government seems determined to push these projects through, no matter what opposition it faces.

What’s going on at Karahnjukar demonstrates the way that government operates. When plans for the mega-project were first submitted to the National Planning Agency (NPA) in 2001 they were rejected because of the “substantial, irreversible, negative environmental impact” the dam would have. All the experts agreed with this verdict (see IRN’s report linked below). But the environment minister overturned the NPA’s ruling and declared that in her opinion the project was environmentally acceptable – of course she is suitably qualified to decide on environmental issues – she’s a physiotherapist! There were a few financial hiccups with banks getting all ethical but Barclays bravely stepped forward with the necessary dosh – even though they’d signed up to the Equator Principles which demand “sound environmental management practices as a financing prerequisite.”

Work started in July 2003, with Italian bully-boys Impregilo (construction arm of Fiat, currently charged with corruption in Lesotho and ‘financial irregularities’ at home) and a terrifying squadron of Caterpillar bulldozers began to claw up and dynamite the fragile sub-arctic tundra. Reindeer, arctic foxes, other small animals and thousands of bird species that lived there fled in fear.

FROZEN ASSETS

All electricity produced at Karahnjukar is contracted to a massive Alcoa aluminium smelter (being built by Bechtel, due to be operational in 2007) which itself will pollute and ruin Reydarfjordur, a pristine eastern fjord. A Reykjavik court recently ruled that Alcoa’s planning permission for this monstrosity isn’t valid, but that probably won’t stop them as they immediately appealed to the – allegedly – rigged High Court.

Karahnjukar won’t benefit Icelanders at all: none of the electricity is destined for the national grid and cos there’s little unemployment in the region no Icelander’s gonna want a nice healthy job at the smelter thanks.

Yet the cost to the nation is enormous: independent experts say the economy is at risk (see IRN report), it has cost $1 billion so far and is likely to cost more – the electricity for Alcoa is for a price linked to the changing prices of Aluminium on London Metal Market…in other words no guarantee it’ll ever make a profit.

The environment suffers more by the day. They’ve already blown part of Dimmugljufur – Iceland’s Grand Canyon – to smithereens, and if they fill up the reservoir (scheduled 2007), 65.5 square kilometres of pristine wilderness will be completely submerged. This land includes birthing grounds for the majority of Iceland’s reindeer and Ramsar ‘protected’ nesting sites for endangered species such as pink-footed geese, and Gyrfalcon. Sixty waterfalls will be lost as will a range of sediment ledges – judged completely unique in the world by scientists studying global warming – which record 10,000 years of geological and climate change. And this vast projected reservoir would extend right onto the glacier itself, which is breaking up because of global warming. Wouldn’t giant icebergs trucking up to the dam be a bit – er – dangerous? Yep. And it gets worse – the dam is being built over a seismic fault!

airial

Earthquake zone at Kárahnjúkar volcanoes
White lines = Ground rock cracks
Yellow lines = Erosion of sediments. Erosion is parallel
to cracks: Sediments are cracked, cracking is still active
.
In 2003, Landsvirkjun’s chief, Fridrik Sophusson, was asked what would happen if there was an earthquake under the dam. “It would burst,” he smiled calmly. “A catastrophic wall of water would annihilate everyone in Egilsstadir [the nearest town] and all the neighbouring farms would be swept away.” Icelandic Tsunami anyone? “It won’t happen,” he added smugly. Yet in August 2004 there were continuous earthquakes at Karahnjukar for several days.

Environmentalists also warned that silt residues left by changing water levels round the projected reservoir would dry to a fine dust which the wind would carry onto local farmland. This was dismissed, yet last summer silt left in the wake of unexpected surges in the newly diverted glacial river produced just such devastating dust storms.

But none of this makes any difference: while everyone else in the ‘developed world’ is busy dismantling dams, Iceland’s rulers just can’t get enough. There are plans to dam every major glacial river in the country. Rio Tinto Zinc are reportedly salivating over the chance to devastate the North of the country, while Alcan and Century (who’ve already got smelters near Reykjavik) are keen to expand their deathly shadow in the south.

Ironically, the government- via its tourist board – still invites visitors to enjoy the “unspoilt pure natural beauty” it’s hell-bent on destroying! So how do they get away with it? Well, Iceland has a tiny population (290,000) and power is concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy families who control politics, industry and the media. Scientists, journalists, anyone who asks questions is swiftly discredited and then sacked.

But it’s not all bad news and you can even help. A really vigorous and up-for-it grass-roots environmental movement is emerging, determined to stop Icelandic nature being pimped to the highest bidder. It’s a David v. Goliath battle and the call is out for international support.

If you are up for peacefully showing your solidarity with some of the most fantastic nature on our planet, check out www.savingiceland.org and joining the protest camp summer 2005.

http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news487.htm

Also in pdf.

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


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 05 2005
1 Comment

ALCOA’s Alarming Record on Pollution


Alcoa, Inc. is one of the worst polluters on the planet. They are at the forefront of poisoning the air, land and water of Texas, the most heavily polluted state in the nation. Alcoa has grandfathered facilities exempt from the 1971 Clean Air Act. In Texas alone, it has several hundred plants that are accountable for the mounting pollution problems of the state.

Rockdale, Texas, located around 50 miles east of Austin, is home to a plant that sprawls over 7,000 acres and runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is powered by four on-site power plants, three of which were built before the Clean Air Act of 1971 was approved. It contributes to the pollution problems in Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The aluminum smelter here discharges roughly 104,000 tons of air emissions per year, including over 60,000 tons of acid rain.

Alcoa says that if it were forced to comply with state and national clean air laws, the alterations in equipment would be so expensive that the company would be forced to shut down the Rockdale plant; instead of doing this, they’ll keep the plant running and contaminate the area.

Between the years 1983 to 1987 at a time when they were under scrutiny to maintain clean facilities, Alcoa spent $62 million to upgrade their facilities without consent from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), blatantly violating federal law. Large increases in air pollution ensued in 1988, including nitrous oxides, particulate matter (which contain human carcinogens), carbon monoxide, and an annual increase of 13,000 tons of sulfur dioxide since completion of the modifications. Although Alcoa blatantly violated federal law, neither the EPA nor the TNRCC pressed charges.

Since 1987, more than forty-seven Alcoa facilities have been cited for pollution violations by state and federal regulators. In one instance when the EPA opposed Alcoa, they along with the Justice Department filed claims against the company as reported March 14, 2000. In the agreement, Alcoa consented to pay about $8.8 million to clean the Mississippi River Basin, reduce hazardous waste generation, and research new air pollution reduction technology.

In Port Allen, LA, Discovery Aluminas, Inc., an Alcoa subsidy, pleaded guilty to contaminating the water and was fined over one million dollars by the state and the federal government. In Point Comfort, TX, Alcoa was fined $181,400 for emission violations in its bauxite refining plant.

Alcoa was also cited for illegal export practices. They shipped potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to Jamaica and Suriname on 50 separate occasions without obtaining the required Commerce export licenses, then lied about it. They were hit with a $750,000 civil penalty.

Source- www.utwatch.org

Alcoa to pay $550,000 settlement for water pollution at Indiana plant
LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Alcoa Inc. will pay $550,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging the aluminum maker’s aerospace products plant violated water pollution limits.

Source-U.S. Water News Online February 2002

ABC News, December 23, 2004 -A Perth magistrate has imposed a $60,000 fine on mining company Alcoa for polluting the air around its Wagerup refinery. Alcoa pleaded guilty to the pollution charge that related to Bauxite residue dust blowing over Wagerup and Yarloop, south of Perth, in November 2002.

Source – www.minesandcommunities.org

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