More actions to report from Iceland

More actions to report from Iceland

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July 22, 2007

Turns out Saving Iceland’s campaign wasn’t done yet… Thanks to indymedia for the update, and also for Saving Iceland itself, particularly for pointing out how integral aluminum is to the weapons industry. Now I know it’s not just used for making cheese (that’s right) and pots and plastic…

From Indyemdia – The resistance against heavy industry and large dams in Iceland has heated up, and not just because of global warming. The week began with Reykjavik’s first Reclaim the Streets on the 14th of July, where a rebel clown army raved in opposition to aluminium. The day after a public meeting was held with the people of Thorlakshöfn (named as a site for two new aluminum smelters) and activists from anti-heavy industry struggles in South Africa and Trinidad. On Wednesday the 18th, Saving Iceland closed the supply road to Century Aluminum’s Grundartangi Smelter and the Icelandic Alloys steel factory. On Friday, Reykjavik Energy was targeted and a huge banner was raised accusing the electricity company of supplying energy to war-mongering corporations ALCAN-RioTinto and Century-RUSAL. That morning, the Icelandic consulate in Edinburgh, Scotland was painted red under the slogan ‘Iceland Bleeds’, and locks were glued.

Much of the aluminium produced goes directly to the war efforts of the US, Russia and others. Aluminium is the single most important bulk metal for modern warfare (1). It is the most important bulk metal for missiles, tanks, fighter planes, and nuclear weapons. It’s as if Iceland is organizing a competition which company – ALCOA, Alcan/RioTinto or Century/RUSAL – has committed the most human rights and environmental crimes to decide who to sell energy,” says Saving Iceland {…}

Smelter expansion
ALCOA, Alcan/RioTinto, Norsk Hydro and Century/Rusal are all scheming for new smelters in Iceland. Activists blockaded Century this week. Century Aluminum, a part of the recently formed Russian-Swiss RUSAL/ Glencore/SUAL conglomorate, want to build a second smelter in Iceland in Helguvik with a projected capacity of at least 250.000 metric tons per annum. The planned site is designed to accommodate further expansion. Grundartangi has this year been extended to 260.000 mtpa.

Currently, an environmental impact assessment (2) is under review for the Helguvik smelter, produced by the construction consultants HRV (Honnun/Rafhonnun/VST).

It is absurd that an engineering company with a vested interest in the smelter construction – they name themselves the chief architects of the aluminium industry on their own website, could be considered to produce an objective impact assessment. The document makes idiotic claims, such as that pollution is really not a problem because Helguvik is such a windy place that the pollution will just blow away.

This smelter will demand new geothermal power plants at Seltún, Sandfell, Austurengjar and Trölladyngju, in addition to the Hengill area which has already been seriously damaged by Reykjavik Energy. The impact assessment does not take these into account, nor the impact of the huge amount of power lines and pylons required. The plants will ruin the natural and scenic value of the whole peninsula. Also, the required capacity, 400 MW, exceeds the natural capacity of the geothermal spots, and they will cool down in three to four decades (3). And Century admits it wants the site to expand further in the next decades. So it is obvious that this smelter will not just ruin Reykjanes but also need additional hydropower.

The impact procedure seems to be completely irrelevant anyway, since the company has completed an equity offering worth $360 million to be deployed for partly financing the construction of the Helguvik smelter project (4). This indicates that Century already has high level assurances that the project is to continue no matter what.

This completely contradicts the claims of the new government of Iceland, and particularly it’s environment minister Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, that it is opposed to new smelter projects. Read the full article at indymedia

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