The land around the site of an hydroelectric power plant contains very high levels of DDT, decades after it was used on the site.
RÚV reports that the contamination dates back to 1957. At that time, the hydroelectric plant Steingrímsstöð – which is powered on water flowing from Þingvallavatn Lake into Úlfljótsvatn Lake – was being built. Builders encountered a severe problem with black flies ((Simulium vittatum), which would often cover the clothing and vehicles of the workers.
Initially, the workers used the now infamous pesticide DDT to spray for the flies, but the chemical would dry up, rendering itself useless against the flies. After consulting with a specialist at the University of Iceland, the workers were told to blend the DDT with kerosene, and then spray. This proved successful, but the amount of DDT sprayed around the area was quite high.
Soil samples taken of the area in 2000 and 2001 showed DDT present in several areas. Similar tests done last year showed DDT everywhere, and measuring well above what is considered the acceptable limit.
Environmental scientist Stefán Gíslason warned that DDT can be dangerous in the long term, as it builds up in the fatty tissue of living things. DDT has also been linked to causing diabetes and cancer.