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Ísafjörður Mayor Rejects Liability for Dioxin Pollution

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Ísafjörður Mayor Rejects Liability for Dioxin Pollution

A farm in Northeast Iceland.

A farm elsewhere in Iceland. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Mayor of Ísafjörður Gísli Halldór Halldórsson has said that the town will not accept liability relating to the dioxin pollution in Engidalur valley near Ísafjörður, the West Fjords, from the incinerator Funi despite the fact that the municipality will participate in compensating farmers in the area for damages.

“This might sound strange but I have never seen liable documents which show that dioxin pollution in meat from Engidalur was over the limit. For this precise reason, the town of Ísafjörður has never accepted responsibility for the damage that occurred,” he told Fréttablaðið.

Gísli referred to a Danish report which found that the levels of dioxin in the meat produced by farmers in Engidalur were below the maximum limit. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) banned the sale of meat from the area and recalled meat exported to Europe.

A report from MAST stated that dioxin in meat from the area had measured above the maximum safety limit in December 2010. Dioxin levels in milk had also previously been found to be above the limit. Gísli says it would be interesting to see the initial report from MAST with information about chemical levels in the food products.

Farmer at Efri-Engidalur, Steingrímur Jónsson, was forced to slaughter his entire livestock herds, 80 sheep and 19 cattle, in 2011 after it was discovered that they had been subjected to dioxin pollution. Two hundred sheep from other farms in the valley were also put down. The incinerator was closed in 2010.

Experimental pasturing conducted by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) to test the content of dioxin in the grass concluded in January 2012 that the area was fit for farming again. However, it was advised that farm products, especially those from cattle and horses, be monitored to begin with.

The municipality approved the counter offer by farmer Kristján Ólafsson for damages that he suffered while an agreement is yet to be reached with Steingrímur Guðmundsson. Gísli told Fréttablaðið yesterday that the city council is still waiting on a response from him to its offer.

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