As someone trained in environmental impact assessment, I have complained before about how the Icelandic Planning Agency has often decided that a project doesn’t need an environmental impact assessment when I feel it should do. Maybe they will rethink this in future.
A metal recycling company called Geothermal Metal Recycling (GMR Endurvinnsla) was set up in 2013 in Grundartangi in West Iceland, near the Century aluminium plant. It is a small company and the Planning Agency decided that it didn’t need an EIA done on it. But in the 2.5 years since it started operating, 23 incidents regarding pollution prevention, pollution and other factors relating to their operating licence have been reported to the Environment Agency, which monitors the operations of polluting companies. Of these, 11 came last year. Apparently some of them were the same, and related to things that were apparently fixed but obviously weren’t.
Twice, emissions from the plant exceeded maximum allowed levels. In February 2014, emissions of sulphur dioxide were 3 times over the level stipulated in the licence, while in October last year dioxin was recorded over the permissible level stipulated in the licence. Air pollution is only recorded once a year. Waste piles up, which could lead to soil pollution. Etc.
The Planning Agency has also decided that the proposed Silicor Materials solar silicon plant at Grundartangi does not need an EIA done on it. This decision is controversial, amongst locals and others. Let’s hope that a similar situation does not arise – though it may well do.