The shutting down of toxin-emitting garbage incinerators has led to Westman Islands residents paying more to do away with their trash, and the mayor is having none of it.
Westman Islands mayor Elliði Vignisson made his objections plain in an article whose title can be roughly translated as “Environmental Hipness”. Elliði argued that the previous environmental minister’s “crusade” against incinerators has meant that Westman Island residents now pay 77% more for waste disposal. Garbage on the island, while previously burned, is now shipped to the mainland for disposal elsewhere.
Elliði believes this is a waste of money, calling concerns about dioxin from incinerators “hysteria and nonsense”. He concludes that the entire environmental platform of the Left-Greens – the party the previous environmental minister belonged to – amounts to nothing but “environmental hipness”, which he defines as “attacking common sense in the name of environmental extremism”.
In point of fact, dioxin levels from incinerators in the Westman Islands were 85 to 95 times greater than acceptable limits established by the European Economic Area (EEA). Dioxin was found in meat and milk in Iceland at the time, although amounts of the toxin remained below dangerous levels.
Dioxins are a group of chemicals with varying levels of toxicity, damaging to liver and kidneys, and can have serious long-term health effects. TCDD, the poison that was used against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, is a dioxin, and it was also an active ingredient of the infamous Vietnam War-era pesticide Agent Orange.