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Annual general meeting 2019

The, 2019, annual general meeting of the Sustainability Initiative was held in Reyðarfjörður, Congregation hall, on April 30th, from 14:00 to 17:00 and had the topic „The Vitality of vegetation“.

Meeting chair: Karl Óttar Pétursson, mayor of Fjarðabyggð.



Participants at the annual meeting were more than 30.

Dagmar Ýr Stefánsdóttir, Communications and Community Relations Manager of Alcoa Fjarðaál, set the meeting. She went over how challenging it was to have our own data which could be read from the environmental results. She thanked it for the entrepreneurial work to start with the Sustainability Initiative, along with the good externalities of those who have managed the project over the years.

Guðrún Schmidt, Education Manager at The Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, spoke on the topic "Vegetation is good". It examined the importance of vegetation and soil, which is controlled by environmental factors, weather, soil, volcanic activity and human impact. The basis of vegetation is the soil and the soil does not exist without vegetation. In one handful of soil there are more organisms than human beings on Earth. Vegetation and soil are important links in ecosystem cycles such as water, energy, nutrients and carbon cycles. Then she explained the ecosystem and the importance of soil, where fertile soil is not a renewable resource. It takes even many centuries to reclaim soil and vegetation with similar ecological capabilities as what has been destroyed by human activity, so countermeasure is not comparable to the existing ecosystem. Soil and vegetation degradation cover 33% of the world's geographical land-area today. It is therefore very important that we understand our land-area and prevent and stop the erosion and declining of soil and vegetation in order to balance natural cycles. According to agreements on Sustainable development and other international agreements, we are obliged to promote soil and vegetation protection and to re-establish the relationship between nature and culture.


Guðrún Óskarsdóttir, a Vegetation Scientist at the East Iceland Natural Research Centre, spoke on the topic "The cohabitation of vegetation, grazing animals and industry in East Iceland". She said that Snæfellsöræfi wilderness, and Fljótsdalsheiði, heath, were some of the best grazing areas of the country, with very little erosion. She described vegetation monitoring methods and named common plant species in different areas. She showed a simplified food web that showed us that the food web is never simple. All of this is about maintaining the balance that interventions can disrupt. She then reviewed the changes in each monitoring area separately. At Kringilsárrani, the biggest changes occurred in the heathland, and they suggested increased grazing stress, by pink-footed geese. Changes in Vesturöræfi were not as apparent. At Fljótsdalsheiði, most of the changes had occurred in semi-vegetated heathland and suggested increased winter grazing of reindeer in the area and possibly warmer winters. Warming causes smaller plants to retreat while larger plants flourish. According to the vegetation monitoring of recent years in Reyðarfjördur, it seems that heather and bushes increase at the same time as mosses and lichen retreat. The retreat of lichen in Reyðarfjörður could also be associated with other factors, e.g. reindeer grazing. Vegetation changes take a long time and are caused by many interacting factors, therefore long-term vegetation monitoring is very important.

Erlín Emma Jóhannsdóttir, a specialist at the East Iceland Natural Research Centre, spoke on the topic “The effects of climate and landscape on the distribution and concentration of fluoride in vegetation”. Erlín began by explaining to the guests how fluoride passes into the environment from aluminum plants in the form of gas and bound dust particles. The distribution and concentration in the atmosphere are dependent on many interacting factors such as emissions from the plant, the height of the stream and the size of the dust particles. Landscapes and climates also have a major impact on how much and long fluoride is distributed. Smaller troughs function as a funnel for wind, and the distribution therefore becomes larger and more dilute. Thermal changes and climatic conditions in general also have a major impact on the distribution of fillers. Plants pick up fluoride through air vents. Only a small amount of fluoride passes through the root system. Fluorine causes visible damage to the edges of leaves. If the concentration of fluoride in the air is high, the concentration in plant tissue is also high. When the concentration of fluoride in plant tissue exceeds 30 µg / g, the deterioration of susceptible plant species begins and at 100 µg / g the decline of medium tolerated plant species begins. The concentration of fluoride is highest in the 0-2 km distance from the smelter but minimal and near the background values 27 km away. West of the plant is the highest fluoride, which is explained by the prevailing eastern direction. The relationship between air quality and climatic data and the strength of fluoride in grass in Reyðarfjörður could be analyzed. Plant concentrations are higher with increased concentrations of fluorine in air and with increased air temperature. Concentration is lower with increased wind and rainfall.

Smári Kristinsson, Potroom and Aode Rodding Manager, spoke on the topic “Potroom management and environment”. Fluoride minimization is important for Alcoa Fjarðaál based on environmental issues, employee health, fluoride reuse in the production and EOP license. In 2017, emissions of fluoride from production were least compared to aluminum production. The development of emissions seems to be decreasing with increased technological progress and a steady balance in operations. But with more frequent leaks and interruption in potroom, emission increase and therefore it is vital that the production runs smoothly. As the smelter is new, emission is required to be low and Alcoa Fjarðaál has always strive to minimize emissions and is well below the limits of the EOP license. In the production of aluminum, electrolysis is performed. Fluorine is then used as a catalyst for the electrolysis process to produce aluminum from aluminum oxide. With this process, the temperature must rise to 960°C (1,760°F) but without impetus, the temperature would have to rise in the melting point of aluminum oxide, which is 2050°C (3,722°F) with increased greenhouse gas emissions. The best way to capture the fluoride after processing is to minimize pollution and to reuse in the electrolysis process. Fluorine contamination is preferable when fluorine passes through a roof, out as a gas or with dust. The external factors that affect fluorine pollution and cannot be controlled are climatic and brightness. What Alcoa Fjarðaál can do to minimize pollution is to keep operations stable, minimize dust, control airflow in the pot-rooms, secure pot-covers and minimize pot leakage.

Ásrún Elmarsdóttir Landsvirkjun's project manager spoke on the topic "Recovery of vegetation". According to Landsvirkjun's environmental policy, the company places emphasis on knowing the environmental impact of its operations and seeks to reduce them and aims, among other things, to be a carbon-neutral company in 2030. In the past, Landsvirkjun has been working to minimize disruption, prevent soil and vegetation destruction, restore vegetation and promote ecosystem sustainability. Operations concern reclamation, forestry and wetland recovery. Landsvirkjun's operations cover 243 km2 of land in Iceland. Ásrún reviewed changes in vegetation in connection with the formation of Hálslón, where 32 km2 of vegetated land was lost. The goal is to make up a similarly large area. Recovery of vegetation is carried out under the supervision of two funds - The Land Improvement Fund of Northern district, which has been involved in the reclamation of 64 km2 of land and The Land Improvement Fund of Fljótsdalshreppur. In addition, Landsvirkjun / Fljótsdalsstöð, Power Plant, has been working on reclamation of about 9 km2 of land. The reclamation has been since 2003 and the goal is for the vegetation in the area to be sustainable. The average carbon sequestration of the land reclaimed is estimated to average 2.1 tons of carbon per hectare per year, The Soil Conservation Service of Iceland will evaluate and measure the progress of vegetation and carbon sequestration in the reclamation areas in 2019.


In Annual meeting 2019 following changes to indicators were approved; 1.1 Gender Balance, 1.6 Compliance to Icelandic Regulations, 1.12 Employment, 2.4 Erosion of the River Banks and 2.09 Oil/Chemical Spills due to operation.


In closing, Karl Óttar Pétursson made a brief summary of the meeting. An informative and informative meeting with interesting lectures where we all learned something.

Changes to indicators

Á fundinum voru samþykktar eftirfarandi tillögur að breytingum á vísum.

1.1  Kynjahlutfall í vinnuafli
a - section


  • Landsvirkjun: 60% men and 40% women by 2015
  • Fjarðaál: 50% men and 50% women by 2015

Is now

  • Landsvirkjun: 60% men and 40% women by 2021
  • Fjarðaál: 50% men and 50% women by 2025

Rationale for change:: Updated targets in egalitarianism of the firms.


1.6 Compliance to Icelandic Regulations
What is measured?:  
  • Was:  Number of non-compliance per year.
  • Is now:  Number of non-compliance category 2, per year.
Monitoring Protocol:  
  • Was:  Fjardaál and Landsvirkjun monitor this indicator. Every instance is recorded.
  • Is now:  The Environment Agency of Iceland (EAI) and East Iceland Office for Public Health an Environment (PHE) handles surveillance and monitoring for this indicator.
  • Rationale for change:: The previous measure is too broadly defined and unrealistic. The number of incidents, category 2, regarding the Environmental Operating Permit (EOP) has been monitored, and this is in accordance with the criteria for choosing an indicator referring to EOP.
1.12 Employment
a - section
Monitoring Protocol
  • Was: The human resources departments in Landsvirkjun and the HR team at Alcoa Fjarðaál collect this information. Contractors report to lead persons within companies, i.e. the "owners" of this indicator.
  • Is now: The human resources departments in Landsvirkjun and the HR team at Alcoa Fjarðaál collect this information.
  • Rationale for change:: It is impossible to access data from contractors.
2.04 - Riverbank Erosion at Jökulsá í Fljótsdal and Lagarfljót rivers
Monitoring Protocol : 
  • Was: Profiles are taken of the riverbank in selected places and marked on a map. Measurements taken very five years.
  • Is now: Annual measurements are taken from the reference point (stick) to the riverbank. In parallel, photos are taken of the riverbank.
  • Rationale for change: Sticks were put down in 2005 as a zero point. Sticks can be lost and then a new zero point is set. Measured annually.


2.09 – Oil/Chemical Spills due to projects and operation
What is measured?: 
  • Was: Number of spills over 20 liters and 2,000 liters per year on land (power plant and smelter) and from ships at berth at Mjóeyrarhöfn harbour. (Project effect: direct).
  • Is now: Number of spills over 20 liters and 100 liters per year on land (power plant and smelter) and from ships at berth at Mjóeyrarhöfn harbour. (Project effect: direct).
    • Was:  0 spills over 20 liters – 0 spills over 2.000 liters
    • Is now: 0 spills over 20 liters – 0 spills over 100 liters
    • Rationale for change: According to an Icelandic regulation on prevention of oil pollution from activities on land 884/2017 - Article 61. the standard is 100 liters, while Alcoa's basic criteria is 20 liters.

      Attendance list

      Name Institution, company or association
      Aníta Júlíusdóttir Landsvirkjun
      Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir Fjarðabyggð
      Árni Jóhann Óðinsson Landsvirkjun
      Ásrún Elmarsdóttir Landsvirkjun
      Björn Ingimarsson Fljótsdalshérað
      Christoph Merschbrock Austurbrú
      Dagbjartur Jónsson Landsvirkjun
      Dagmar Ýr Stefánsdóttir Alcoa Fjarðaál
      Dagný Björk Reynisdóttir Alcoa Fjarðaál
      Erlín E. Jóhannsdóttir Náttúrustofa Austurlands
      Freyr Ævarsson Fljótsdalshérað
      Guðrún Á. Jónsdóttir Austurbrú
      Guðrún Óskarsdóttir Náttúrustofa Austurlands
      Guðrún Schmidt Landvernd
      Gunnar Gunnarsson Austurfrétt
      Halldóra Dröfn Hafþórsdóttir Austurbrú
      Hjalti Jóhannesson Háskólinn á Akureyri
      Jóhanna Harpa Árnadóttir Landsvirkjun
      Jóna Árný Þórðardóttir Austurbrú
      Karl Óttar Pétursson Fjarðabyggð
      Kristín Ágústsdóttir Náttúrustofa Austurlands
      Lára Björnsdóttir  
      Lilja Dögg Björgvinsdóttir Austurbrú
      Páll Freysteinsson Alcoa Fjarðaál
      Rúnar Ingi Hjartarson Landgræðslan
      Sigrún Víglundsdóttir Austurbrú
      Sigurður Guðni Sigurðsson Landsvirkjun
      Sindri Óskarsson Landsvirkjun
      Smári Kristinsson Alcoa Fjarðaál
      Snorri Styrkársson Fjarðabyggð
      Sverrir H. Sveinbjörnsson Landsvirkjun
      Unnur B. Karlsdóttir Háskóli Íslands