Two new silica plants – and with them, two new power plants – could be coming to north Iceland after three years. Although this could mean greater employment opportunities for the region, an environmentalist has pointed out that the project could devastate Lake Mývatn.
Vísir reports that the company Thorsil has formalised a plan to build two silica plants near Húsavík, in north Iceland. The aim is to have the plants completed around 2015, with the help of German company PCC. This could lead to up to 160 new jobs for the region, and 400 people will need to be hired to build the plants.
At the same time, the plants will require a great deal of electrical power to operate – 85 megawatts, to be exact. This detail troubles Icelandic environmentalist and author Ómar Ragnarsson, DV reports.
In order to generate this much electricity, part of the plan will be to increase the size and output of the Bjarnaflagsvirkjun power plant, on the shores of Lake Mývatn. As it is, the plant only generates 3 megawatts of electricity and is already mildly polluting for the lake. At the same time, run-off water from the plant will cause water tables to rise and create artificial ponds, which could have devastating environmental effects on the surrounding area as well, Ómar contends.
While Thorsil is expected to do an environmental assessment for their project before any construction begins, Ómar points out that the plans do not yet take into account the effect the project would have on run-off water tables, nor the polluting effect increasing the size of Bjarnaflagsvirkjun could have on Lake Mývatn.