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Silicon Smelter Fumes Cause Concern

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Silicon Smelter Fumes Cause Concern

United Silicon, Helguvík.

The United Silicon smelter in Reykjanesbær. Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

The United Silicon metal smelter in Helguvík, Southwest Iceland, is making the headlines again, this time after Stundin released a video of dust being released from the building in the dark of night. Stundin reports this was not an isolated incident, but has happened repeatedly and always in the dark of night.

The video was reportedly recorded in mid-December.

The smelter’s officials faced strong criticism in November after more than thirty complaints were sent to the Environment Agency of Iceland because of pollution from the factory shortly after it was opened.

Sigríður Kristjánsdóttir, team manager at the Environment Agency of Iceland, told RÚV, “The explanation we got is that fume cleaning equipment got clogged up; they tried to clear it, opened this nozzle and then this dust was released. This is silica fume [(also called microsilica)], which is not a toxic substance and not dangerous.”

Sigríður told RÚV that the agency contacted smelter officials right away last night, once the video had been released. That’s when the explanation above was given.

Sigríður stated the agency has the smelter under a sort of intensive care and that inspectors visit the facility on a regular basis, since other improvements must be monitored. Numerous residents of Reykjanesbær expressed their worries about the smelter at a town meeting in December.

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