27 February 2007
by Steinunn Jakobsdóttir
Sól í Straumi, an interest group in Hafnarfjörður opposing the plans to enlarge the Straumsvík aluminium plant, harshly criticize the organisation Hagur Hafnarfjarðar, a group of people and companies that have vested interests in the smelter, for being biased and using fear propaganda to influence the people of Hafnarfjörður to vote in favour of the enlargement.
The smelter (it’s the one you pass when driving to or from the Keflavík Airport) is owned by the industrial giant Alcan Iceland Ltd., which is now planning to increase the smelter’s annual capacity from 170.000 tons to 460.000 tons. The inhabitants of Hafnarfjörður will get the chance to vote on the subject on March 31st.
The newly established organisation Hagur Hafnarfjarðar has one main goal, to support a bigger smelter so as to maintain a flourishing economy in Hafnarfjörður, as they put it. In reaching that goal, their spokesmen have been encouraging Hafnarfjörður inhabitants to vote in favour of the enlargement, arguing that if they reject these plans the smelter will close down in the near future. That will have dramatic affects on the smelter’s employees as well as all the companies doing business with Alcan, which are, according to Hagur Hafnarfjarðar, approximately 1.500 people and more than one hundred companies.
Sól í Straumi, refuse these predictions altogether. In a statement issued yesterday they accuse Hagur Hafnarfjarðar of using misleading information and fear propaganda to influence the townspeople. According to the statement, Sól í Straumi challenge Hagur Hafnarfjarðar to be more responsible in the debate and stop trying to persuade Hafnarfjörður inhabitants by arguing that their jobs are in danger. They also reject the statement made by Hagur Hafnarfjarðar that 5-7% of the municipality’s income can be traced to the smelter. The number is closer to 1-2% of the town’s total income, they argue.