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[GreenYes] Spewing out yet more aluminum...
- Subject: [GreenYes] Spewing out yet more aluminum...
- From: JenGitlitz@aol.com
- Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 13:47:50 EDT
Hello BBANers and GreenYesers:
Below are two stories about how Alcoa just signed a deal with the government
of Iceland to build a 295,000 ton aluminum smelter which would be supplied by
numerous new dams and a 500-megawatt hydroelectric power plant. While Alcoa
charges that the project is benign, local and international environmentalists
disagree. They warn that sensitive habitat will be irreparably harmed by
the project, threatening pink-footed geese and reindeer, and inundating
spectacular canyons. The low cost of electric power in the deal makes this
Icelandic site more attractive for smelting than higher cost areas--such as
the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Is it worth it to destroy Europe's second largest wilderness area for 295,000
tons of aluminum a year? As the recent CRI report "Trashed Cans" pointed
out, Americans wasted 790,000 tons of aluminum cans last year--MORE THAN TWO
AND A HALF TIMES the anticipated Icelandic production capacity. (This report
can be ordered at www.container-recycling.org/publications/order.htm).
Wasting notwithstanding...does the world really need the aluminum from this
new development project and others like it? Not according to industry analyst
Deutsche Bank. According to a recent report, "This growth in capacity is the
primary reason why we think the primary aluminium market will remain in
surplus over the period 2002-2004 and price appreciation will be limited."
Oversupply in the primary market is directly linked to depressed prices for
UBCs...a disappointment to curbside operators who look to aluminum can
revenues as their salvation.
For more information on these issues, please contact me (Jenny Gitlitz). News
Iceland Chooses Smelter, Hydro Project over Park
REYKJAVIK, Iceland, July 23, 2002 (ENS) - The world's largest aluminum
company, Alcoa Inc., the government of Iceland, and Landsvirkjun, Iceland's
national power company have signed a deal to build a large aluminium smelter
and hydropower development in eastern
Iceland. The pact, signed Friday, drew immediate condemation from WWF, the
WWF has vowed to continue to press for a national park in eastern Iceland
instead of the combined smelter and hydro project, which will be the largest
ever infrastructure development in Iceland. It involves the construction of
a 190-meter (623 foot) high dam as well as other smaller dams, tunnels,
power lines, roads and a 57 square kilometre (22 square mile) reservoir.
Alcoa says that when completed, the project will represent one of the
largest private sector investments in Iceland's history and "one of the
cleanest aluminum production facilities in the world."
This "sustainable development project" is designed to create hundreds of
new, permanent jobs in eastern Iceland helping to put the economy there on
a more solid foundation, Alcoa said in a statement. "A stronger economy in
the region will allow for improvements in transportation, education,
healthcare and culture."
But the WWF charges that the development will affect wildlife and plants
over 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 square miles) of Icelandic wilderness -
some three percent of Iceland's total land area - and destroy parts of the
unique Dimmugljufur canyon, Iceland's Grand
WWF criticised the Icelandic government for ignoring strong support for a
national park in the Eastern Highlands. Samantha Smith, director of WWF's
International Arctic Program, said, "A new Gallup poll in Iceland shows that
65 percent of Icelanders want a national park in the Eastern Highlands,
which includes the area the project will destroy. But the government seems
determined to build this project before it will seriously consider the
different options for a
"If the project stays on its fast track, some of the most valuable areas
will be destroyed before a national park is in place," said Smith.
Alcoa says Landsvirkjun will begin development of a 500-megawatt hydropower
facility in eastern Iceland, and Alcoa will complete environmental and
engineering studies of the smelter near Reydarfjordur in eastern Iceland.
The deal also encompasses a harbor facility at Mjoeyri and related
Icelandic waterfall (Photo courtesy Robert Loney)
WWF, and an alliance of Icelandic conservation organizations, including the
Iceland Nature Conservation Association, campaigned for Alcoa to withdraw
from the project, since it stepped in when the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro
pulled out of a similar project earlier
The national park that the alliance is proposing in the Eastern Highlands
would be bordered by the Vatnajökull glacier in the south, the Vonaskard
canyon in the west, the Lonsoderaefi highland plains to the east, and the
National Lands boundary to the north.
WWF is offering to commission an initial study for the national park,
including detailed boundary planning, protected area categorization, and
The study would also look at eco-tourism, research and other low impact
activities in the area as alternative income sources for local communities,
and provide an analysis of the political and formal steps necessary to
implement such a comprehensive protected area plan for Iceland.
Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and
construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets.
As the construction process continues, Alcoa said, it will "work to meet the
company's high standards for sustainable development."
But the conservation organization says Alcoa has already violated its own
princples. Smith said, "Alcoa is ignoring its own principles of
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2002. All Rights Reserved.
Environmentalists urge Iceland to scrap Alcoa plan
Story by Alister Doyle
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
NORWAY: July 25, 2002
OSLO - Environmentalists urged Iceland and U.S. aluminium giant Alcoa Inc to
scrap plans to build a smelter fuelled by a huge hydropower plant in one of
Europe's last wildernesses.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) conservation group said it wanted
Iceland to declare the eastern highlands a national park, saying they would
be irreversibly damaged by dams and reservoirs in the multi-billion-dollar
Alcoa, the world's top aluminium producer, signed a memorandum of
understanding on Friday with Iceland's government to cooperate on a 295,000
tonnes per year smelter to be fed by a 500-megawatt hydro-electric power
Reykjavik and Alcoa say the project would cause little pollution and have
limited impact on local ecology.
But WWF said dams and a 43 sq km (16.6 sq mile) reservoir would flood
regions used by reindeer and pink-footed geese in glacier-fringed highlands.
The reservoir would drown parts of the spectacular Dimmugljufur canyon.
"We'll work for a national park instead," said Julian Woolford at the WWF
Arctic Programme in Oslo. "We want to develop options of eco-tourism."
Woolford said there was enough hydro-and geothermal power near the capital
Reykjavik in the west to fuel any new smelter without touching the
wilderness. Iceland already has two aluminium smelters in the west of the
North Atlantic island.
Reykjavik's government, which has backing from most of parliament for the
long-debated plans, reckons the scheme could mean perhaps 1,000 permanent
jobs for the remote region. And officials say new roads and investment could
Hydropower is a non-polluting energy usually hailed by environmentalists as
far better than fossil fuels or nuclear power. But in recent years many
environmentalists have criticised big new
Alcoa has agreed to guarantee 75 percent of the costs of road and bridge
construction leading to the planned hydro-electric plant in a preliminary
Iceland and Alcoa hope to work out details including energy costs, taxes and
construction sites by January.
"The power plant and the dams will destroy the wilderness," said Arni
Finnsson of the Icelandic Nature Conservation Association, which cooperates
with the WWF.
He said the region was Europe's second largest wilderness behind Svalbard, an
Arctic archipelago run by Norway.
National power company Landsvirkjun says animals are likely to adapt to the
damming and that no endangered plant species had been found in areas to be
flooded. New reservoirs could encourage trout and other fish.
"The hydropower project will...have positive economic impact both locally
and nationally," Landsvirkjun said in a statement.
Kolbrun Halldorsdottir, a member of parliament of the opposition Left Green
Movement, said the government had been unwilling to discuss a national park.
"The whole project is short-sighted," she said, adding that smelters built in
remote parts of Scotland and Norway had sometimes failed to stop a drift to
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Phone: (508) 793-8516
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