Smelter Failed To Supervise Emissions

25.1.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
The Environment Agency of Iceland (UST) believes aluminium company Alcoa failed to properly supervise its own emissions and, as a result, the agency will be asking for new readings from every heavy industry operation in the country.

RÚV reports that the UST examined data from the Alcoa smelter in Reyðarfjörður, east Iceland, and found that the company failed to inspect emissions detection equipment, despite such inspections being a part of the company's operations licence with the government.

As reported, fluoride emissions from the smelter exceeded safe limits last summer, prompting the company to send warnings to area farmers that hay grown in the region may have been poisoned. Geir S. Hlöðversson, the managing director of environmental matters at Alcoa, told reporters that the unusually high emissions were due to malfunctioning machinery.

However, the UST believes the malfunctions could have been prevented, if required inspections had been conducted. While crediting the company with its fast response to the fluoride emissions, it nonetheless emphasised that the company is ultimately to blame for skipping necessary checks on its own machinery. As such, it will be asking every smelter and other heavy industry operations in Iceland to conduct inspections now, and submit its findings to the UST.

The affected hay, while found to contain high levels of fluoride, was not considered to have high enough levels to poison animals.

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