Over the weekend, residents of Reykjanesbær in Iceland’s southwest smelled the effects of odor pollution resulting from the United Silicon plant in the area. A faulty oven in the plant has made it necessary to operate at lower temperatures, which in fact contributes to emissions. Residents in the area have had enough, RÚV.
The operators of the plant have been forced to reduce the operating temperatures of the main oven due to electrical issues. Reports from the Ministry for the Environment have shown, however, that operating at these lower temperatures leads to increased odor emissions. The plant has received significant media coverage since late last year, when residents of the area started to seek medical attention for respiratory tract issues. In April, the plant was shut down, but not for long. In late May, the plant’s reopening was met with considerable opposition. The plant was allowed to reopen under the condition that it be supervised closely by environmental authorities.
Ragnhildur L. Guðmundsdóttir, resident of Reykjanesbær and board member of the association Opponents of Heavy Industry in Helguvík, told RÚV that pollution from the plant reduces the qua1ity of life of area residents. “The plant should have lost its operating license long ago, seeing as it has already repeatedly breached the terms of it,” she said. “I don’t understand it. I would have thought that quality of life mattered more.” Ragnhildur suffers from sensitive lungs and claims that she has noticed a decline in her respiratory health since the plant opened in November of last year.