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Power Plant Pollution Surprises Reykjavík Energy

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Power Plant Pollution Surprises Reykjavík Energy

Hellisheiði geothermal power plant

Hellisheiði geothermal power plant. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The hydrogen sulfide pollution from Hellisheiði geothermal power plant came as a surprise to Reykjavík Energy (Orkuveita Reykjavíkur), which operates the plant. CEO Bjarni Bjarnason believed the pollution to be under control. The goal is to operate a clean plant.

Pollution from Hellisheiði plant went above health limits on Wednesday and Thursday last week. It measured 125 µg/m3 on Grensásvegur road on Friday, and went above 80 µg/m3 on Saturday, RÚV reports.

Bjarni stated that in recent years, hydrogen sulfide from the plant has been removed. Six large machines are operated on the premises and all the hydrogen sulfide from four of them is removed, representing 60 percent of all hydrogen sulfide passing though the plant.

“We still have about 40 percent of hydrogen sulfide being emitted into the air without being treated. We believed we had this under control, so the limits wouldn’t be exceeded in Reykjavík, but now that has happened and of course that’s unfortunate,” Bjarni remarked.

Special conditions before the weekend created the inversion in the air which prevented steam and gases from the plant from getting into the atmosphere.

“We didn’t think this would happen this way, but this is an unusually long time under such weather conditions. Yes, it did surprise us,” Bjarni added.

He stated it’s clear that the company must go further in the removal process than before. Two machines remain to be connected to the treatment equipment.

“Our long-term goal is to operate a clean plant, and surely, the readings in recent days encourage that project and the need to speed it up.”

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