Bechtel served as prime construction contractor for the smelter, located on the east coast of Iceland. It has been built on schedule and on budget, despite the challenges of construction in a harsh northern climate. The plant, which broke ground in July 2004, cast its first aluminum this April and by the end of 2007 will reach full production capacity of 346,000 tons per year.
On June 9, Alcoa celebrated the formal opening of the smelter. Iceland's prime minister spoke at the ceremony, lauding the fact that it will provide secure and safe jobs for the people of East Iceland. Three hundred of the smelter's expected 400 workers have already been hired. Sixty-percent of the workers are from the local area.
Bechtel Chief Executive Officer Riley Bechtel also spoke at the ceremony, thanking the people of Iceland for welcoming a foreign company and foreign workers to make the construction a success.
Bechtel directed 2,200 workers from Iceland, Poland, and other countries on the project. To house employees, the company erected a large team village near the existing village of Reyarfjrur, about three miles from the smelter. Despite the influx of new Icelandic and foreign workers, relations between the project and the township of some 700 residents have been excellent, thanks to the cooperation of local authorities, open communication, and careful planning.
The project has won praise in Iceland for setting an exceptionally high standard of safety based on Bechtel's "zero accidents" philosophy. It also won Iceland's highest environmental award, the Conch, for its policy of generating no waste to landfill, and not discharging wastewater into the neighboring fjord.
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