In the last week, Saving Iceland took action at the Glencore and ALCOA headquarters in Switzerland as well as all Swiss Icelandic consulates, the Icelandic embassy in Rome, Icelandic consulate in Milan and also the headquarters of Impregilo. In Iceland Century Aluminum and Landsvirkjun both saw two actions against them and now Reykjavik Energy was targeted.
“We have been camping at Hellisheidi for two weeks now and we are witnessing the scale of destruction, most of which is not very visible to the public. People should really come and have a look what is happening here. What used to be a beautiful natural area is now full of tarmac and pollution. It used to be full of tourists. Now the hiker huts are abandoned while mountains are being blown up to power the Century smelters,” says Saving Iceland’s Jaap Krater.
Most of the work is being done by Eastern Europeans who are living in a work camp, in similar conditions to the Karahnjukar construction.
Reykjavik Energy Invest in Yemen
Saving Iceland also criticises Reykjavik Energy for it’s investments in Yemen (1,2), a country with a Shari’a regime, where there is no free press and security services are routinely involved in torture and even extrajudicial executions (3,4).
“RE say that geothermal investments will benefit the poor in the country. The reality is that the energy will not go to the poor. The regime is very corrupt and Yemen is even advertising for aluminium smelters to come there. If someone would have said ten years ago: I’m making a deal with Sadam Hussein to help the poor, would you believe them?”
“RE should not make deals with anyone involved in serious human rights violations, whether it’s a fundamentalist state or heavy industry corporations,” says Krater.
A factsheet on the REI deal with the Yemen regime is attached as a pdf file.
Impact of Hellisheidi extension
The environmental impact asessment for Hellisheidarvrikjun says explicitly that the only purpose is to supply energy for the Century expansion at Grundartangi and possible new ALCAN and Century plants at Straumsvik and Helguvik (5). At the same time, farmers pay twice as much for electricity as these corporations (6).
Saving Iceland has published reports documenting a long list of human rights violations of these companies (7, 8).
Saving Iceland spokespeople Miriam Rose and Jaap Krater have documented the effects of the geothermal power in Hengill in the journal the Ecologist (9):
“Laced with various and sometimes toxic compounds from deep within the bedrock, the [geothermal borehole] water is either pumped back into the borehole – which can lead to geological instability – or is pumped untreated into streams and lakes. This particular technique has already created a huge dead zone in lake Thingvallavatn.”
Pictures of the physical impact of the drilling can be seen on the Saving Iceland website (10 / see below) and in the attached pdf file.
About Saving Iceland
In the last two weeks, Saving Iceland stopped work at the construction site of Century Aluminum’s planned new smelter in Helguvík, they blockaded the existing Century smelter on Hvalfjordur, and took a number of actions against Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national power company. This is part of their fourth summer of direct action against heavy industry in Iceland.
Saving Iceland was started by Icelandic environmentalists asking for help to protest the Icelandic wilderness, the largest remaining in Europe, from heavy industry. Aluminium corporations Alcoa, Century Aluminum and Rio Tinto-Alcan want to construct new smelters. This would require exploitation of all the geothermal areas in the country, as well as damming all major glacial rivers (see http://www.savingiceland.org/sos).
This year, the fourth action camp to protect Icelandic nature has been set up near the Hellisheidi geothermal plant.
savingiceland at riseup.net
Television news on www.politube.org
1. Yemen News Agency (2008). Yemen, Icelandic REI sign document to invest in generating electricity by geothermal. http://www.sabanews.net/en/news151190.ht… [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
I2. ceNews (208). Electricity agreement signed between Yemen and Iceland. http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2008/04/… [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
3. BBC News (2008). Country Profile: Yemen. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_… [Accessed July 17th, 2008]
4. Embassy of Yemen in the US (2008). http://www.yemenembassy.org/economic/ind…. [Accessed July 17th, 2008]
5. VGK (2006). Environmental Impact Assesment fot Helisheidarvirkjun. VGK, Reykjavik.
6. Iceland Review (2007). Century Smelter to Pay Less for Energy than Farmers. June 7th 2007. Also available at http://savingiceland.puscii.nl/?p=821. [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
7. Saving Iceland (2007). Alcan’s Links to the Arms Industry. http://savingiceland.puscii.nl/?p=882 [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
8. Saving Iceland Press Release (2007). Saving Iceland Blockades Century and ELKEM. http://savingiceland.puscii.nl/?p=841 [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
9. Krater, J., Rose, M., Anslow, M. (2007). Aluminium Tyrants. The Ecologist 2007 (10). Also available at http://savingiceland.puscii.nl/?p=1021 [Accessed July 27th, 2008]
10. Saving Iceland (2008). Destruction of Hengill. http://savingiceland.puscii.nl/?page_id=… [Accessed July 27th, 2008]