A sufficient number of Hafnarfjördur residents have signed a petition for a vote on the enlargement of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Straumsvík, which lies within the town limits, to be repeated.
The smelter in Straumsvík. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
One fourth of residents, who are eligible voters, must sign a petition in order for it to be valid, Fréttabladid reports.
In 2007, Hafnarfjördur residents rejected the smelter enlargement by only 88 votes and so Alcan’s enlargement plans in Straumsvík were canceled.
In a Hafnarfjördur town council meeting on Thursday last week, council members agreed to entrust the town’s urban planning and construction division with reopening discussions with the smelter’s executives on the position of their plans for enlargement.
Mayor of Hafnarfjördur Lúdvík Geirsson said the ball is now in the court of Rio Tinto Alcan, asking: “Are they in the same position as two years ago and do they wish to make a new proposal on potential enlargement or has anything changed in that regard?”
However, the information officer of Rio Tinto Alcan in Iceland, Ólafur Teitur Gudnason, said the rules on voting of this kind are clear. If one fourth of eligible voters sign a petition, a vote should take place. That does not depend on Alcan’s wishes.
Hafnarfjördur authorities never formally replied to Alcan’s application for a construction permit but considered the results of the 2007 vote to be binding. Therefore, the original application is still valid, Gudnason explained.
“If townspeople are keen on green-lighting this project we will definitely look into whether and when it could be carried through,” Gudnason said. “However, we won’t look into anything before we know whether we have the town’s approval.”
According to Fréttabladid’s sources, a re-vote on the smelter enlargement could take place alongside the elections for the Hafnarfjördur town council next spring.