Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 69

Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 69
ICELAND REVIEW 67 Sellafield in the UK,” says Fridleifsdóttir. She adds that it has been a matter of great concern to the Icelandic Government in recent years that Tc-99 (technetium) from Sellafield has been released in increasing quantities. Measurements in Norway indi- cate that if this continues, Iceland will start to show increased measurements of tech- netium in the future. “The British govern- ment has, within the OSPAR convention, made a commitment to make a concerted effort to decrease the release of radioactive material into the environment,” Fridleifsdóttir states, continuing, “We would have liked to have made more progress in this matter, but according to the convention, in 2020 there should be no abnormal radioactivity in the ocean, some- thing that the British will have to comply with by then. Unfortunately, the British have not yet decided to shut down Sellafield and will continue to release nuclear waste into the ocean until 2006.” Fridleifsdóttir explains that this waste goes up towards the west coast of Norway, to the Svalbard area and then follows the Greenland coast towards Iceland – a process taking many years, and the radioactivity, of course, extremely diluted by the time it gets to Iceland. “It is decreased by a thousandfold when it gets to Iceland. Even though the dangers are small, we want to keep the ocean clean. We don’t want anyone to ruin what we have here.” Leading the way Another issue important to Icelanders is decreasing pollution from land-based sources. Most of the world’s countries are working on an agenda on how each of them intends to decrease this kind of pollution. Iceland is the second country to hand in their agenda, after Canada. Fridleifsdóttir explains that Iceland is also working with AMAP (Arctic monitor- ing and assessment programme), which is a work group studying the condition of the Arctic. An extensive report on the state of the Arctic has shown that compared to the rest of the world, the Arctic has remained clean and virtually unpolluted. The AMAP report states that POP pollution cannot be traced to any known source in the northern hemisphere. “It is important that we have environmen- tal topics under control here in Iceland in order to make similar demands of other countries,” says Fridleifsdóttir. “We have undertaken a lot of work internationally and we have been recognised as a leading coun- try in the field. Our latest success is our work with UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme). We made a suggestion that a regular assessment be made on the state of the world’s oceans. We want people to become more aware of the pollution dangers to the sea, and this sug- gestion will be accepted at an international meeting of environmental ministers in Johannesburg later this year. The United Nations will, from now on, conduct a regu- lar report on the state of the world’s oceans to stress the importance of the oceans to humans. If the ocean is polluted, this will have enormous effects on the economy around the world and the life of humans. The ocean is, after all, a great source of food to a majority of the world’s population. Icelanders have to put the protection of the ocean first. “ Anna Margrét Björnsson is a staff writer. I N T E R V I E W can also imitate hormones and cause hor- monal imbalances in animals, as well as being a cause of cancer. “Some of these chemicals, particularly the pesticides, are mainly used around the equator,” says Fridleifsdóttir. “They are released into the atmosphere, rain down into the ocean and may eventually accumulate in the Arctic. This is a threat coming from out- side of Iceland, making international co- operation very important. Most of the pro- duction and usage of POPs takes place in the developing countries. We have taken a big step towards this matter now, but of course there will be other chemicals in the future posing a serious threat. We can see today that these chemicals have been reduced in our oceans, although, of course, the level of chemicals in our oceans was extremely low to begin with.” Measurements in Iceland show that POPs in humans are well below danger levels. The concentration of POPs in human blood is a little higher than on the European conti- nent, but lower than in Greenland and among the Canadian Inuits. Recent research on whether dioxin was present in Icelandic seafood show that dioxin is only present in very small quantities in the North Atlantic Ocean, and in no way above what is consid- ered normal in seafood in this area. Consumption of Icelandic seafood therefore remains a safe and healthy option. No to Sellafield Fridleifsdóttir explains that Iceland has been putting pressure on the international community to keep radioactive materials at bay. “These are dangers that we need to address right now. Nuclear waste dumped in the Barents Sea coming from northwest Russia is a major concern, and the Scandinavian countries, the EU and the US have worked together to identify the prob- lem and provide resources to clean up the waste. An accident occurring in this area would have a disastrous effect on the seafood market. Even if the accident had no notable effect on the seafood in Icelandic waters, the market is so sensitive that con- sumers would automatically be deterred. We have co-operated with different coun- tries regarding the discharge coming from “It is important that we have environmental topics under control here in Iceland in order to make similar demands of other countries. We have undertaken a lot of work internationally and we have been recognised as a leading country in the field.” 61 IR302 - Iceland Businesbs-rm 2.9.2002 13:40 Page 67
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