Another Smelter in South Iceland Green-lighted Skip to content

Another Smelter in South Iceland Green-lighted

The local authorities of Reykjanesbaer and Gardur municipalities issued a building permit for an aluminum smelter in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula, southwest Iceland, yesterday. Mayor of Reykjanesbaer Árni Sigfússon said construction may begin.

Not everyone agrees. “Árni Sigfússon can of course stick a shovel into the ground but he won’t get anything out of it except a picture,” Mördur Árnason, chairman of Graena netid, the environmental protection association within the Social Democrats, told 24 Stundir.

“The haven’t obtained the energy they require, ensured a quota for CO2 emissions, issued work permits, taken care of pipe installations and a conclusion of the Icelandic Environment Association’s [Landvernd] complaint to the Ministry of Environment about the Icelandic National Planning Agency’s decision [on environmental impact assessment] has not been reached yet,” Árnason said.

Landvernd, a national environmental NGO, wants the assessment annulled because it did not include all aspects of the operation. “It is illogical to only assess the environmental impact of one part of such an extensive project like this one,” Árnason added in agreement with the NGO.

Sigfússon does, however, not share their concerns, stating the project will have a positive impact on the region, like in terms of employment. “These are well paid, safe and diverse jobs,” he said, adding that representatives of Iceland’s government are backing the smelter plans.

Some ministers are however reluctant to support the Helguvík operations. “In my heart I find that the southwestern corner has many opportunities besides aluminum smelters,” said Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of the Social Democrats in an interview with Channel 2 on Sunday. “And we know that we have a limited quota for CO2 emissions. I would rather have seen them go to Húsavík.”

Minister of the Environment Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, also of the Social Democrats, criticized the move yesterday, saying she is surprised by the Reykjanesbaer and Gardur municipalities for issuing a building permit to Century Aluminum (Nordurál) for a smelter in Helguvík when her ministry has not reached a conclusion in the aforementioned complaint yet, Morgunbladid reports.

Click here to read more about the planned smelter in Helguvík and here about the planned smelter in Húsavík, north Iceland.

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