Heiðarfjall mountain on Iceland (Photo by Peter Ryv (CC))

The United States operated a radar station on Heiðarfjall mountain for 16 years only, but decades after the military withdrawal from the site, the toxic waste the Americans burried underground is poisining the environment.

Featured photo: Heiðarfjall mountain on Iceland (Photo by Peter Ryv (CC))

In the 1950s Washington negotiated a sweet deal with the Icelandic government. We’ll protect you with, among other assets a radar station, and you look the other way if we do something nasty on the ground. What the Americans left behind: PCBs, mercury, uranium, lead dug down to a depth of 5 metres (16 feet) over an area the size of 5 football fields.

The radar site was operated between 1954 and 1970 by the US Air Force. Already at the end of the last century lead pollution was detected in the groundwater in the area, with landowners demanding a clean up. To date, not much has happened. Iceland doesn’t have the money to clean it up, and the United States doesn’t have the legal responsibility nor the policitical willpower to take action.

Clean-up Might Take Three Years

A fresh report sent to the Icelandic parliament by the Island nation’s Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate speaks of at least half a million euros is needed to get a better overview of the pollution and that the clean-up itself might take two to three years.

Heiðarfjall is not the only environmental hazard left behind by the United States on Iceland. The Icelanders fear three similar radar stations (Miðnesheiði, Stokksnes / Hornafjörður, Straumnesfjall) might be polluted as well. | © 2022 Marcel Burger, nordicreporter.com