The Nuclear Plant That Almost Was

29.1.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
A recent interview with a former lawyer for the National Energy Authority (NEA) revealed that General Electric once approach Iceland with the idea of building a nuclear power plant in the Westman Islands.

Lárus M.K. Ólafsson, a lawyer who used to work for the NEA, gave a candid interview that appeared in last Sunday's Morgunblaðið supplement. Among the subjects he discussed, he talked about how, in 1958, the American power company and defence contractor General Electric approached Icelandic authorities with a pitch for a nuclear power plant in Iceland.

"We were always looking for cheaper and more convenient ways to bring electricity and heat to these parts of the country," Lárus said. "Somehow, Icelandic authorities received an offer from General Electric, who were marketing cute little nuclear power plants here and there, among other places in Scandinavia."

Lárus said the offer was taken seriously at the time. One of the proposed locations for a nuclear power plant was the Westman Islands.

"It was supposed to be a cheap alternative to fossil fuels," he said. "Three separate reports were done on the matter in 1959, an economic plan, a general explanation of the product, and then different ways in which it could be implemented. But then the idea more or less fizzled out."

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