Farmer Concerned about Effect of Waste Burning Skip to content

Farmer Concerned about Effect of Waste Burning

By Iceland Review

Steingrímur Jónsson, farmer at Efri-Engidalur in Skutulsfjördur near the town Ísafjördur in the West Fjords, is concerned that years of pollution from the waste burning station Funi nearby may have compromised the health of the farm’s inhabitants.


Icelandic cows. The photo is not directly related to the story. By Páll Stefánsson.

He is also concerned that he may have to slaughter his livestock and move away from the farm because of toxins in the ground and thus bring an end to a more than century-old family history of farming at Efri-Engidalur, Fréttabladid reports.

Chemicals found in the milk produced on the farm have raised concern because of their effects on the environment and public health.

“We have always drunk this polluted milk and eaten the meat from our livestock. And we have inhaled it, which, of course, goes for many others as well. There are companies located closer to the waste burning stations than we are,” Jónsson said.

The farm is located one kilometer one kilometer away from the waste burning station. In mid-December persistent pollutants, dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs, in a sample of the milk from Efri-Engidalur exceeded the authorized limit.

For safety reasons, the Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) stopped milk production on the farm and the distribution of other products that could be traced back to the farm.

“It is very serious but we have to hope for the best,” Jónsson said. “I never fancied the neighbor but although I suspected that there must be some pollution in the smoke which often filled the valley, I never thought it was this serious.”

“It is impossible to know for how long the exhalation has been so toxic,” he added. “I’m concerned that I might have to give up farming because heavy metals sink into the ground.”

On MAST’s website it says that dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs can have serious consequences for the environment and public health.

They don’t have immediate effect but can cause problems if they get carried into the body in a considerable quantity over a long period of time. The down slowly in the nature and accumulate in the adipose tissue of humans and animals.

Jónsson said he hasn’t received any information on how he will be compensated if everything goes the worst possible way. For the time being, the dairy in Ísafjördur pays him for the milk that he has to dispose of.

The farm has 17 milking cows and 70 sheep. Jónsson hopes that he won’t have to slaughter his livestock. He is now awaiting the results of further testing of samples from the farm by experts abroad which will determine how serious the pollution is.

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