Minister for the Environment Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson announced at a government meeting yesterday that the ministry would finance research into a plan of action for cleaning up pollution left behind by US forces at Heiðarfjall mountain, RÚV reports.
Heiðarfjall, located on the northeast Iceland peninsula of Langanes, was a surveillance site used by US forces from 1957 to 1970. Amongst the pollutants left at the site are PCB, mercury, lead and uranium.
More research will still need to be conducted in order to draw up a proper clean-up plan for the area, which includes not only the earth but also surface and ground water. This will include taking further samples from the area.
“The matter is now on the right track, but I take the pollution left in the wake of US military activity very seriously,” the Minister said in a statement. “Some radar stations were operated in Iceland by US forces, along with other military facilities. In the estimation of our experts, it is not unlikely that there is still some unknown pollution at these sites, and that there is just as much a need for sampling and research at these sites as at Heiðarfjall, and there could be a lot of work ahead.”
US forces formally left Iceland in 2005. Since then, there have been numerous reports of pollution left behind by them at sites where they operated, sometimes stretching back decades.
Unexploded ordinance, such as mortars and sea mines, is sometimes also found around Iceland, some of it dating back to World War 2. It is unknown just how much unexploded ordinance is yet to be unearth in Iceland.
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