Aluminium plants around the country pollute the surrounding areas, killing moss around the plants. Sigurður H. Magnússon, a vegetation ecologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, published the results of a study on the pollution of aluminium plants yesterday. Among the chemicals which the plants pollute into the surrounding areas is lead, nickel, arsenic, and antimon, RÚV reports.
The study monitors the prevalence of heavy metals and sulphur in moss around the country. The monitoring started in 1990 and lasted until 2015, with measurements taking place at five-year intervals. Special monitoring takes place around various aluminium plants. “The moss has disappeared in some places, such as Straumsvík and in Grundartangi as well, while the moss has receded significantly in a couple of places in Reyðarfjörður.” All three aforementioned areas are home to aluminium plants.
“We’re especially worried about the lead as that material is very unfavourable to humans,” Sigurður stated. He was interviewed by RÚV at an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður, close to the Straumsvík aluminium plant. The pollution in the area is worrying as the plant affects a populated area in Helnnahraun lava field. “We have to consider all factors when we’re establishing industry, as it has considerable effect,” he said.
Glittering wood moss is one of the two moss species which are inspected. “It cannot be found here anymore. It was definitely in the area. But it has disappeared and the lamb’s wool moss which is here is significantly damaged,” Sigurður stated about the area surrounding the Straumsvík plant.
Aluminium in Iceland
The aluminium industry in the country is the most power-intensive one. Iceland is in 9th place among aluminium-producing nations worldwide. The three plants in the country are situated in Straumsvík, close to Hafnarfjörður. The others are situated in Grundartangi and Reyðarfjörður. The controversial Kárahnjúkar power plant in East Iceland was built to power the plant in Reyðarfjöður, putting swathes of the highlands under water.