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
'Laws' Tag Archive
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?
Forty workers at Kárahnjúkar dam in Iceland’s eastern highlands suffered from diarrhea and vomiting on Friday after having consumed food and drink from open containers inside the tunnels where they were working.
According to Helga Hreinsdóttir, the managing director of East Iceland’s Public Heath Authority, there is a lack of cleanliness in the tunnels, Fréttabladid reports.
Hreinsdóttir explained the workers cannot wash their hands before they eat and that they serve themselves onto paper plates from open containers.
Hreinsdóttir said she had requested improvements, including that the food be delivered to the workers in the tunnels in pre-packaged portions.
A Portuguese worker who returned home from Kárahnjúkar yesterday told Fréttabladid about his experience inside the tunnels.
He said the workers had been deep underground for 12 hours on Thursday without food and drink. He also said they had licked the tunnel’s walls for water.
When food and drink arrived the workers dipped their cups into an open container of apple juice, but could not wash their hands first, the Portuguese worker explained.
Thorvaldur P. Hjardar, assistant district director of East Iceland’s Work Supervision Authority, told Fréttabladid he would visit Kárahnjúkar dam today to investigate the working conditions.
Hjardar said there is no problem with the workers being underground for more than ten hours as long as they have proper eating and lavatory facilities and can wash their hands.
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…
Brazilian environmental activists are charging that Brazilian environmental authorities and an Alcoa lead consortium planning construction of Barra Grande dam conspired to commit fraud in the awarding of an environmental license for the project. Members of Brazil’s Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB) and environmentalists blockaded the access road to a stand of virgin forest slated for clearing before the filling of the reservoir. In all, 6,000 hectares of primary forests, including araucaria pines, in one of the richest remaining expanses of the threatened Atlantic Coast rainforest, would be flooded by the dam on the Pelotas river in Southern Brazil. A 2,000 hectare stand of virgin araucaria forests was somehow “omitted” in the project’s environmental studies. Local groups have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to annul the license awarded to Barra Grande, to require the consortium to carry out new studies evaluating the possibility of operating the reservoir at a lower level to avoid drowning the araucaria forests, and if this is deemed impossible, to order the demolition of the dam structure. Heavily-armed riot police have reportedly been sent to the area to disperse protestors. The consortium building Barra Grande includes the Pittsburgh-based Alcoa aluminum company (which contains Kathy Fuller, President of WWF-USA as a Board Member), MAB leader Soli da Silva says the mobilization will continue indefinitely. “We cannot permit that fraud and a ‘done deal’ become the rule on environmental licensing for hydroelectric projects in our country.” Please support these brave environmentalists at http://forests.org/action/brazil/ .
Over a dozen protesters of the Reydarfjördur aluminum smelter in east Iceland entered the building site this morning, and two of those have climbed 70-meter high building cranes, on which they have attached banners with slogans. The banner reads “ILLEGAL WORKSITE (ÓLÖGLEGT VINNUSVÆÐI) - referring to the judgment of the Icelandic High Court which was still valid at the time of the action. RUV (Icelandic National Broadcast Service) reported that the banner read ‘Illegal Action’. Some would say there was quite a difference there. This was never corrected in spite of promises to do so. How convenient for ALCOA…
Nov 09 2006
Vol. 19 No. 23
Impoverished Indians fight ALCAN’s bid to open a mine in their backyard. Since this article was written the repression has been stepped up.
“What you got…..we don’t want,
what you’re selling…..we ain’t buying!
So no matter, how hard you’re trying,
we want no industrial wasteland in our yard”
(Anti-Smelter Warriors Anthem, chorus)
by Sujatha Fernandes, CorpWatch September 6th, 2006
The roads that wander through the southwestern peninsula of Trinidad pass small fishing villages, mangrove swamps, and coconut plantations; they skirt herds of buffalypso and reveal sheltered beach coves. This February, Alcoa signed an agreement in principle with the Trinidad and Tobago Government that threatens to fundamentally alter this gentle landscape. Plans by the Pittsburgh-based manufacturing company to build a large aluminum smelter have sparked criticism from local residents and environmentalists. Read More
Oct 07 2006
Alcoa claim that they are one of the most ethical corporations in the world. Really? Below is a message sent to us from our friends fighting Alcoa in Trinidad and Tobago”, where Alcoa wishes to cut down pristine rainforests and displace houndreds of people in order to mine the bauxite (aluminium ore) and build gas powered smelters. As in Iceland, there is a popular opposition to Alcoa in Trinidad and Tobago, yet the government welcomes Alcoa’s supposed ‘business.’ Read More
A historical amount of Icelanders today marched in four different cities against the damming of Kárahnjúkar. Following a call from retiring television reporter and nature enthusiast Ómar Ragnarsson to march on the day before the dam is scheduled to be flooded, up to 15,000 people in total walked the streets in the Reykjavik, Akureyri, Egilsstaðir and Ísafjörður. “