There are clues that the Kárahnjúkar dam project did not fulfill all of the environmental conditions necessary before construction could begin. Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir has instructed her offices to investigate the matter further.
In December 2001, when the hydroelectric dam project was still in the planning stages, the Ministry for the Environment set 20 environmental conditions that had to be fulfilled before construction could go forward. These conditions were meant to decrease the environmental impact the dam would have on the surrounding area, and on Iceland as a whole.
The minister told reporters that she has received indications that the project did not fulfill all of these conditions, so she is asking the office to investigate further.
The dam project was controversial from the start, not least of all as its construction was to power an aluminum smelter in east Iceland. Opponents pointed to how much unspoiled highlands area would be flooded by the dam, while supporters pointed to job creation. At the time, a referendum was demanded, but the Independence Party and the Progressives – who led the government at the time – voted against it.
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