The Norwegian government today gave the green light to one of the biggest single instances of pollution in the country's history. A new mine will dump its toxic tailings directly into the Førde fjord in the west of Norway.
"It is shocking that Norway is the only country in the world allow new projects of this kind", said Lars Haltbrekken of Friends of the Earth Norway.
The controversial mining project in the Førde fjord will allow the mining industry to use the highly biodiverse fjord as a dumping ground. Friends of the Earth Norway reacted strongly to the government's permission to pollute the fjord, which has previously been designated as a national salmon fjord by the government on account of the richness of its marine life.
The government has given permission to one of the biggest pollution scandals in Norwegian history. The Førde fjord is pristine and a rich source of fish, which will be greatly damaged by the vast amounts of tailings which will be dumped from the mine. Every minute, 24 hours of the day, for 40 years, 11 tons of tailings will be dumped in the fjord. Norway's foremost marine scientists have given sharp warnings against the plans. The government completely ignores this.
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries protested the plans, because of the negative impacts on marine life. The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research has also issued several reports showing the dumping of tailings would do massive damage to life in the fjord.
"All the advice from environmental experts suggest that this is an issue where the precautionary principle should have been invoked", continued Lars Haltbrekken.
Local businesses including fisheries and tourism-related enterprises have also protested the projects, as they endanger existing jobs in sustainable sectors, and harm Norway's reputation. The Norwegian Environment Agency warned against using the fjord as a dumping ground last year over fears that species of fish could be permanently erased from Norwegian waters. Today, they have reached a different conclusion based on a "comprehensive review" of all the factors involved.
"The Environmental Agency's position is hard to understand. We thought their responsibility was to the protection of our environment. The mining industry have several good alternatives available, but will now be allowed increased profits, by sending the bill for their pollution to our nature, our fisheries and future generations", concluded Lars Haltbrekken.