From Iceland — US Military Trash Is Still Not Cleaned Up After 50 Years

US Military Trash Is Still Not Cleaned Up After 50 Years

Published May 12, 2021

Alina Maurer
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After half a century, old waste left by the US Army in Heiðarfjall in Langanesbyggð, in the Northeast of Iceland, is still not cleaned up. This has been a source of controversy for decades.

Hazardous soil contamination

At Heiðarfjall, trash and hazardous waste can be found in the soil from the time when there was a checkpoint, run by the United States on behalf of the NATO defense system, from 1954 to 1970.

NATO and the United States will have to pay for the cleaning bill to some extent if the regulations solving this matter are agreed to.

Owners of the land at war with U.S. military

According to Vísir, among the owners of the land is Jón Ársæll Þórðarson, who has described his relations with the US military as a “war”. He and other owners have long demanded a clean-up of the hazardous waste in the area by the military. To date, the U.S. military has not complied with the landowners’ requests to clean up the area.

The military is not freed of all issues right now, as the Icelandic government intends to ask the United States and NATO to intervene, presumably especially financially. The parliamentary motion for a resolution of the matter states that even though attitudes towards environmental issues have changed since the departure of the area, the US government still has to initiate or finance clean-ups of the pollution caused by their military activities.

Under the 1951 defense agreement, the United States military should, as far as possible, dispose of waste materials upon departure.

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