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Pollution Complaints about Silicon Smelter

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Pollution Complaints about Silicon Smelter

United Silicon, Helguvík.

The United Silicon metal smelter, Helguvík, Southwest Iceland. Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

More than thirty complaints have been sent to the Environment Agency of Iceland because of pollution form a United Silicon metal smelter in Helguvík, Southwest Iceland, which opened about two weeks ago, RÚV reports. There have been complaints about dust and smell from the factory.

Some residents have sought medical help because of respiratory problems.

United Silicon responded by sending out a statement, claiming that the smoke and smell from the factory are no more harmful than those from a New Year’s bonfire. Company officials explained that before production began, and at the time when most complaints were received, firewood was used to power the factory’s furnace. At that time, the smelter’s smoke filters were not used for fear of damaging them.

On Saturday, company officials admitted that a mistake was made and that insufficient information was provided to the residents of Reykjanesbær.

María Magnúsdóttir, who states she suffered injury to the respiratory tract due to pollution, wants the smelter closed. Reykjanesbær Mayor Kjartan Már Kjartansson stated the smelter’s initial problems have got to cease. He has received numerous complaints from residents.

Kristleifur Andrésson, director of safety and environmental issues at the smelter, stated that the smelter’s furnace operated at a low temperature the first few days, but once the temperature has been increased and it reaches full operation, the smell pollution should be history.

Kjartan expects a report from the Environment Agency this week and has scheduled a meeting with the agency’s representatives.

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