From Iceland — Environmental Minister: United Silicon "Depriving Residents Of Freedom"

Environmental Minister: United Silicon “Depriving Residents Of Freedom”

Published August 30, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Minister for the Environment Björt Ólafsdóttir has once again spoken up about the controversial United Silicon plant in Reykjanes, which has been a source of air pollution since at least last November.

The problems at United Silicon have been ongoing and frequently reported on. Pollution from the plant, more often than not attributed to malfunctions at the plant, have been causing nearby residents respiratory distress for months.

Reykjanesbær City Council demanded the plant be shut down last March, and Björt expressed support for the idea at that time.

However, despite assurances from management that improvements and repairs would be made to remedy the situation, Reykanesbær residents are still reporting heavy air pollution. A number of them, apart from having to visit health clinics for respiratory complications, have additionally said they can no longer open their windows or let their children go to school as a result of the pollution. In fact, locals have an entire Facebook group dedicated to opposition to the plant, and is some 2,800 members strong.

Björt has now again spoken up on the matter on Facebook:

“The situation in Reykjanesbær due to polluting heavy industry is gravely serious,” she wrote in part. “People are deprived of their freedom as they close doors and windows, and don’t dare send their children out as they obviously find the air threatens their health and well being.”

The plant is scheduled to be shut down temporarily on September 10 in order to make improvements that will eliminate the pollution, but these assurances were also made last November, when the pollution was at that time attributed to “beginner’s mistakes”.

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