Steingrímur Jónsson, farmer at Efri-Engidalur in the West Fjords, believes there is no way for him to continue farming because of dioxin pollution from the waste burning station Funi outside Ísafjördur in his products and livestock.
Icelandic sheep. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The Icelandic Food and Veterinarian Authority (MAST) confirmed on Friday that the levels of dioxin in milk, meat and fodder from the farm are too high for consumption, Fréttabladid reports.
Jónsson said the news had been a shock to him because he had clung to the hope that the original testing of dioxin levels in the milk from his farm conducted by the local dairy MS had not given an accurate picture of the situation.
Of the 12 meat samples that were tested for dioxin in the area, only two were within allowable limits. All samples from Efri-Engidalur, including milk and fodder, were contaminated.
“I’m just going to take one day at a time,” Jónsson replied when asked whether he will seek his legal rights and demand compensation. “We’re going to keep the animals for now but I don’t want to think about the future.”
Jónsson usually has 15-16 dairy cows and around 80 sheep. Now that the products from his livestock cannot be sold, they will most likely need to be slaughtered. There are also a few hobby farmers in the area and MAST estimates that 350-400 animals are affected.
Halldór Runólfsson, chief veterinarian at MAST, said such a short time has passed since the dioxin levels were confirmed that no decision has been made on behalf of the authority yet.
“The animals aren’t suffering but you cannot put their products on the market. Their termination must be discussed with the owners and environment authorities,” he said.
When asked how farmers in the area will be compensated, Runólfsson said it will be difficult to calculate. “I don’t know who will be held responsible.”
The waste burning station Funi is owned by the Ísafjardarbaer municipality. It has now been shut down but while it was in operation it was monitored by the Environment Agency of Iceland, which belongs to the Ministry for the Environment.
Click here to read more about dioxin pollution caused by waste burning stations in Iceland.