Attilah Springer is a journalist and an activist. She is a part of the Rights Action Group in Trinidad and Tobago, which has fought a long battle against Alcoa over aluminium smelters in Trinidad and Tobago. She recently spoke at a conference for Saving Iceland where she documented the progress of the struggle against the aluminium industry in her country. She is currently staying at the International Summer of Dissent protest camp, organised by Saving Iceland. A Grapevine journalist sat down to speak with Atillah at their beautiful campsite in Mosfellsdalur, joined by Lerato Maria Maregele, an activist from South Africa who has been organising protests against Alcan in her own country. Read More
'Laws' Tag Archive
Jul 22 2007
The Icelandic media reports today that Icelandic Alloys (Elkem) “accidentally” released a huge cloud of pollution from their plant at Grundartangi in Hvalfjordur. Apparently the accident was due to human error. The media quote Thordur Magnusson, an Elkem spokesman, saying that this human error “…recurs several times a week.”
Sigurbjorn Hjaltason, Chairman of the local Kjosarhreppur parish, confirms that Elkem usually produce the emissions during nights, when suitable, throughout the year. This is so that people will be less likely to become aware of the pollution they have to breath.
Similar nocturnal habits of ALCAN – Rio Tinto and Century – Rusal have been reported for years by the people of Hafnarfjordur and Hvalfjordur.
ALCAN – Rio Tinto, Century and Elkem seem to share the same conveniently systematic “human errors.”
Are we perhaps to expect that soon the PR departments of these three companies will be offering the population of South-West Iceland free sleeping pills to help them through their dark nights of heavy industry?
Athygli, the public relations company of the National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) woke up this morning to find that during the night a splash of paint had been directed at their offices. A spokesman of the company said the words ‘Iceland Bleeds’ had been written on the house and that he suspected that Saving Iceland was behind this because his company was on a certain “deathlist” on www.savingiceland.org. We can only assume that he means ‘The Nature Killers’ section on this website.
Why would Athygli be on the list of companies responsible for the murder of Icelandic nature? Read More
Update: ALCAN say the Mayor of Hafnarfjordur suggested the landfill. The Mayor says ALCAN suggested it. One of them must be lying…
May 22 2007
The surface of Hálslón, the reservoir by Kárahnjúkar dams in Iceland’s eastern highlands, is constantly rising, swallowing nests and eggs laid by geese. The area is the nesting ground for greylag geese amongst numerous other species of rare and endangered birds. At least 500 greylag nests are thought to be at risk.
According to newspaper Morgunbladid, the birds have not yet realized the changes of their summer habitat, which happened when the glacial river Jökulsá á Dal was blocked last autumn to create Kárahnjúkar dam and Hálslón reservoir. This is to provide energy for an ALCOA owned aluminium smelter in nearby fjord, Reydarfjördur.
A protected area, Kringilsárrani, is also being partly drowned and devastated in full by the project. It is the calving ground of a third of Iceland’s reindeer population, which will be displaced.
The Kárahnjúkar area is the most densely vegetated area north of Vatnajökull, the world’s largest non-arctic glacier. Sixty major waterfalls are being destroyed and innumerable unique geological formations drowned, along with the just recently discovered ancient ruins of Reykjasel, about the most important archaeological find in Icelandic history.
The Kárhnjúkar project entails blocking the silt emissions of two massive glacial rivers, Jökulsá á Dal and Jökulsá í Fljótsdal. This will result in the receding of the combined delta of the two rivers. This will destroy a unique nature habitat in the delta and cause the loss of one of Iceland’s major seal colonies.
The Kárahnjúkar dams are situated on a cluster of active geological fissures. The government withheld geological reports from parliament when voting on the dams took place.
Campos Novos, a dam in Brazil of similar design, cracked in June 2006. Yet, Campos Novos was built on stable ground. Leading Icelandic geologists to consider the Kárahnjúkar dams a major threat to the local population.
The project was opposed by the Icelandic National Planning Agency due to too much irreversible environmental impact and insufficient evidence for the economic benefits of the project. The verdict of the NPA was overruled by the Minister of the Environment, Siv Fridleifsdóttir.
It is typical for the dishonest methods of the National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) that they pretend that the EIA they present on their Kárahnjúkar website is anything other than their own slanted PR job. You can read the real thing here: ‘Conclusion of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Kárahnjúkar Project’ -
The Icelandic National Planning Agency
It is expected that the inundation will be complete in the autumn of 2007. The water levels of the reservoir will fluctuate and the dry dusty silt banks will cause dust storms that will affect the vegetation of over 3000 sq km. It has been estimated that the reservoir will silt up in as little as 40-80 years, leaving a desert where there was one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Icelandic highlands.
So much for the claims of Landsvirkjun and ALCOA that this provides “renewable” and “sustainable” energy!
ALCOA may think that they will get away with this vandalising of the Icelandic environment and that they can force their presence upon Iceland, against the will of half the nation. They are wrong.
ALCOA are not likely to be forgiven for Kárahnjúkar. Through this project ALCOA have gained many new enemies, both Icelandic and international. In due time these are sure to make ALCOA pay a heavy price for this ecocide.
For the ecological impact of hydropower reservoirs and glacial rivers see the following articles:
For other articles about the environmental impact of the Kárahnjúkar dams see ‘Destroyed Areas’
UPDATE: Voters booted Bjartmarz out of Icelandic politics in the general elections 12 May. But her track record is ugly and Icelandic nature will be smarting for a long time after her dark reign as Minister of the Environment. One of her final crimes against nature was to OK, against all scientific advise, a disastrous road scheme by lake Thingvallavatn in the Thingvellir National Park. This area is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for it’s unique nature. The plan is to build a motorway through the Gjábakka area, much too close to the lake. This road must be resisted and stopped. Read More
Apr 24 2007
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?
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.
How was it that the saying goes… “Can’t see the forest for the trees”?
And exactly what sort of tree species would we be looking at… the manicured, sterile, non-indigenous corporate greenwash type? Maybe the time has come for a new botanical category? Perhaps a little research into ALCOA’s track record in forestry would be the place to start: http://www.wafa.org.au/articles/alcoa/in…