Jan 29 2010

No Joint Assessment Needed in Reykjanes

Power LinesIn September 2009, the Ministry of Environment overruled the Planning Agency’s verdic which stated that no joint Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed for the S-West Power Grid and the industry that it’s going to be providing for. The case was sent back to the Planning Agency for a more substansial treatment.

This ruling caused uproar amongst pro-indistrialists, who went so far as to claiming that Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the minister of environment, was guilty of both treason and terrorism against the people og Reykjanes, especially all the unemployed. All the medias jumped on the wagon with the industrialists, citing union bosses worrying about the unemployment rate, economists painting a bleak picture of a bankrupt future and interviews with unemplyed people worrying about their mortages. And all of it was Svandís’s fault.

Yesterday the Ministry of Environment confirmed the Planning Agency’s second verdict. The verdict’s the same, no joint EIA is needed for the projects on the SW peninsular. This means that all the balls are in the industrialists court now and the media is backing them up with quotes and interviews with indistrial workers and union bosses dreaming of a better future now that the way has been paved for projects like the enlargement of the Reykjanes Power Plant, Bitra Power Plant, Hverahlíða Power Plant, various data storages and an aluminium smelter and a silicon factory in Helguvík.

Environmentalists claims, that the governmental administration is entierly against environmental views, go unheard as the mayor of Reykjanes proudly announces that this means work can go ahead at full speed to build the Century Aluminum smelter in Helguvík this spring, creating many jobs for locals.

But as this goes on, no one has answered the question about where the energy for a smelter of the size CA are plannig to build is to come from. Saving Iceland has from the start pointed out that damning Þjórsá river would be the only way to provide sufficent energy for such a project, and currently various calculations and studies done by various groups and individuals are painting that same picture, not matter how optimistically they play with the numbers for all other harnessing capabilities in the area. And that means drilling every warm puddle in the SW peninsula, which would be an environmental disaster.

The industrialists are exploiting the financial collapse and people’s fear of uncertanity and unemployment to wipe all other options than these heavy industry schemes as they way out of the national debts, and with all the major medias behind them, Iceland’s pristine wilderness seems to be more threatened than ever before.