Hay grown in an area of Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland, may have to be destroyed after having been contaminated by high levels of fluoride. The fluoride is thought to have been released from the nearby Alcoa aluminum smelter.
The photo is unrelated to the story. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
According to ruv.is, the plant may release less fluoride per ton of aluminum produced than other plants in the country but recent data shows high levels of fluoride in grass around the plant, particularly to the northwest. The three farms affected are Kollaleira, Áreyjar and Slétta.
Alcoa monitors its fluoride levels annually but high levels may occur when equipment breaks down and fluoride escapes.
Environmental manager at Alcoa Geir S. Hlöðversson said that once they realized that their equipment was not functioning properly this summer and that damage had been done, the company responded immediately.
Geir says that the company is testing the hay, the results of which will determine whether it needs to be destroyed.
High levels of fluoride in hay can lead to deformities in animals’ teeth and bones.