The building of a gigantic hydropower station is planned on the northern edge of Europes largest glacier, Vatnajoekull in
Iceland. The power station is needed for the provision of 770 Megawatt for an aluminium smelting work in eastern Iceland,
with a capacity of 420,000 metric tons per year. In order for this order of power capacity to be delivered, one of the largest
glacial rivers will have to be diverted into another, and huge reservoirs will be required in order to maintain the capacity
required throughout the year. The facts and figures of this planned massive intervention in the Icelandic environment are
· Reservoirs: the largest will flood 57 square kilometres of land, and a further 8 9 smaller ones will
submerge another 10-20 square kilometres.
· The dams: the biggest will be 190m high, 770m long; 3 medium-sized dams
32m high and 1000m long. In addition 6-7 smaller dams will be built.
· The water will be diverted to the turbines
through a 40 kilometre long tunnel/gallery.
· The third longest glacial river - Joekulsa a Bru, Husey - which has
carved out for itself one of the deepest and most attractive canyons in Europe, will be converted to an insignificant stream.
· The diversion of the waters into another glacial river will result in immense changes to the Lagarfljot glacial
lake. Its natural drainage will have to be artificially enlarged and the huge estuary delta will have to be reconstructed.
· Altogether, 3,000 square kilometres or 3% of Icelands total landmass will be affected by this irreversible intervention
in the environment. The area affected, where the natural environment and habitats will be destroyed, extends from the edge
of the Vatnajoekull Glacier to the estuary of the Héraðsflói glacial river.
· A total of 32 square kilometres of
land now covered with vegetation will be submerged forever. The soil erosion in the central highlands is on of the greatest
problems Iceland has to cope with and it must be feared that the planned reservoirs where the deposits carried by the glacial
rivers will end up some 10 million metric tons per year - could pose a danger when the water level in the reservoir sinks.
This will occur in winter, when the water reserves will be drawn on. This time of year for the wildest storms and even more
vegetation will be threatened and covered by the masses of sand and dust carried by the violent winds.
· A unique
former geothermal region will be flooded.
· Flora and fauna: The affected area is one of the few regions in Iceland
where the soil and vegetation are still more or less intact. Opponents of the project point out that the project would have
unforeseeable consequences for the water table.
This part of Iceland is the home of the reindeer whose summer pastures
would be flooded. Some 400-600 seals breed every year on the natural beaches.
Among the bird species whose existence
is threatened or who will be driven from the area by the changes which the project will bring are:
(Gavia stellata) - 220 pairs
Pink-footed Goose !!!! (Anser brachyrhynchus) - 3800 pairs
Pintail (Anas acuta) - 100
pairs; 20 % of the total Icelandic population !
Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - 5 pairs, one of the rarest Icelandic duck
Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) - 10-15 pairs
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeops) - 1000 - 2000 pairs
Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) - over 700 pairs
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) - 265 pairs, 5 % des of the total population
Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) - some 1300 breeding pairs.
The operating company is the Norsk
The PROACT Team/Eurobirder Letter
[All in English]
Estimate of Profitability for The Karahnjukar Hydroelectric Power Plant
Will Norsk Hydro Support Wilderness Destruction?
Fighting to Preserve the Magic of Iceland (WWF)
The Icelandic Society for the Protection of Birds
Kárahnjúka - pictures
Norsk Hydra - sorry Hydro ;-)