We watch the environment


The newest and best available technology was used in the design of the Alcoa Fjardaál smelter to minimize pollution and protect the air, water and soil in Reydarfjördur and vicinity. The company is committed to an extensive monitoring process to evaluate and guard human health and natural resources in the area. This process was started before the smelter construction had begun, to acquire baseline values for continued research. Almost all lowland area near the smelter in Reydarfjördur is monitored. Monitoring includes the collection of air, water and soil samples in order to assess possible impact of the smelter operation on the environment.


Appendix 2 of the Environmental Operating Permit (EOP) issued to Alcoa Fjardaál contains a schedule of emissions and drainage measurements for the aluminum smelter. These measurements have been approved by the EFA. The appendix lists exactly what substances are to be measured, where the measurements are to take place, what time period is to be used, and how frequently the sampling of each measurement in the aluminum smelter itself (in the stacks, in the pot rooms, in the casthouses, etc.) takes place. Among the substances to be measured are gaseous fluoride, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. 


Appendix 3 to the EOP lists the items upon which the monitoring plan is based. The appendix contains provisions for regular measurements of sulfur dioxide, gaseous and particulate fluoride, airborne particulate matter, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); these measurements are carried out in the locations where measurements were conducted around the smelter site prior to the commencement of operations (in the air, in vegetation, in water, etc.). There are also provisions for continuous meteorological measurements of wind conditions and temperature gradients, as well as research on the effects of short-term unfavorable weather conditions.


In keeping with the requirements of the EOP, Alcoa Fjardaál prepared a detailed long-term research plan, which is used to evaluate and protect human health and to protect the environment within the impact area of the Reydarfjordur aluminum smelter.  Among other things, samples are being collected from the air; from mosses, lichens, grasses, leaves, and needles of conifers; and from water, marine biota, soil, and sediments in order to chart the state of the environment.


Alcoa Fjardaál recruited a group of Icelandic and foreign scientists to handle the bulk of the baseline research and monitoring. The research team consisted of The Retec Group, Professors Alan Davison and Leonard Weinstein, The East-Iceland Environmental Research Institute and The Technological Institute of Iceland. These parties are all recognized experts in the fields of ecology, toxicology, and environmental affairs.  The group prepared a monitoring plan designed both to evaluate the baseline situation and to determine whether the smelters operations make an impact on the environment.


Alcoa Fjardaál takes environmental research and monitoring very seriously.  The company’s goal is to preserve the natural resources that exist in Reydarfjordur and to work toward the sustainable coexistence of industry and residence in the area. Environmental research and monitoring are a part of the broad-based measures that the company is prepared to adopt in order to reach that goal. Monitoring is also an important part of the Alcoa and Landsvirkjun Sustainability Initiative.


Alcoa Fjardaál EHS policy [2.5 MB]


Monitoring data

Fjardaál operates monitoring stations in Reydarfjördur. One of these is shown in the picture above. These monitor, for instance:

  • Air temperature
  • Wind direction
  • Wind speed (m/sec)
  • Concentration of SO2 in the atmosphere
  • Concentration of dust particles in the atmosphere
  • Concentration of fluoride (F) in the atmosphere

You can watch the outcome of monitoring "live" by clicking here (please note that this is raw data, which has not been analyzed by specialists).