Thirteen members from the campaign group Saving Iceland were arrested yesterday after protesting against heavy industry on the premises of the Alcan aluminum smelter in Straumsvík near Hafnarfjördur, outside Reykjavík.
Five protestors were arrested while on a march in downtown Reykjavík on June 14.
The protests yesterday involved people chaining themselves to the gate of the smelter area, thereby blocking traffic to and from the smelter, and others chaining themselves to machines and climbing aluminum oxide silos and cranes, Morgunbladid reports.
The capital region police decided to arrest the activists, most of whom were foreign citizens, when they did not comply with police demands on leaving the area. The activists did not resist arrest and the protests were considered peaceful.
“This organization was originally founded around the dam in Kárahnjúkar and the smelter in Reydarfjördur. […] Now we have grown bigger and travel to more places,” said Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, a spokesperson for Saving Iceland.
“We are trying to point out more places were dams and smelters are to be constructed and also point out some facts about these companies [that are involved in the constructions] to the public,” Úlfhildarson added.
Yesterday’s protests were meant to draw attention to a planned Alcan aluminum smelter on Keilisnes, near Vogar on Reykjanes peninsula, or in Thorlákshöfn, south Iceland, the expansion of the Straumsvík smelter and a new smelter in South Africa.
The organization also expressed its regret that the English-Australian mining company Rio Tinto plans to take over the Canadian aluminum company Alcan, which operates the smelter in Straumsvík.
Although Saving Iceland’s protests have been peaceful, they have been time consuming for the capital region police and fire department, which had to use a cherry picker to fetch activists from aluminum oxide silos and cranes. Twenty police officers were called to the scene in Straumsvík yesterday.
Click here to read more about protests organized by Saving Iceland.