Bellona’s first ten years

Publish date: October 5, 2000

Translated by: Marte-Kine Sandengen

On June 16th 1996 it was ten years since Bellona was founded. Many brave initiatives and good ideas are being safely archived in shelves and drawers - never to be realised. In the early days, competitive organisations and wiseacres spoke of Bellona as an ephemera. Bellona proved them wrong, though. The Environmental Foundation Bellona has made itself heard, and still does, in the environmental debate in Norway and internationally. So it should be safe to say that Fredric Hauge and Rune Haaland never archived their idea.

The story of Bellona

Many tough battles have been won throughout the last ten years, but the war is still not over. The weapons applied have gone through a change of character, and so has Bellona by being able to adjust oneself, or in fact stay ahead. Strategically, many alliances have been formed in order to attain a mutual goal; alliances of great surprise to many, but nonetheless, alliances yielding great results. The combination of knowledge and ability to take action has established Bellona as a central, operational unit within the Norwegian opinion.

Environmental concerns have become a part of people’s everyday life. We see laws being passed, implementing a change of direction, and even experience that the financial powers slowly start to state environmental demands when they are about to invest their money. Ten years ago Bellona formulated the concept "environmental crime", a concept to be found in any dictionary today. It is now that "the environmental capital" is being created, and the alliance between environmentalists and environmentally interested capitalists will have to gain new results. The stock exchange will turn green!

The following cavalcade presents a brief historical retrospect on the most important events in the first ten years of Bellona:

  • On June 16th, Fredric Hauge and Rune Haaland, together with friends, establish the Environmental Foundation Bellona. The goal is to create a mobile and efficient organisation that spend substantial resources on keeping itself professionally updated, without being impeded by a slow internal bureaucracy.
  • Bellona puts forward a report on environmental crime in the Norwegian industry. Environmental crime is established as a set phrase in Norwegian politics.
  • Bellona pursues the fight against the mining corporation Titania Ltd, located in Jøssingfjorden. Basically, it was the founders of Bellona who organised another Norwegian environmental organisation, Natur & Youth, to take action against Titania Ltd in 1983 and later. Their demand was to get Titania Ltd to store the wastes from mining on shore, and not dump it in the fjord.
  • Bellona buys its first boat: M/S Bellona.


  • In August 1985, Fredric Hauge and Geir Arne Bore from Bellona stood trial for the action against the Norwegian petrochemical plant Hydro Rafnes. Due to their positive societal commitment, their fines were reduced considerably.
  • Activists from Bellona and Natur & Youth occupy the office of the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Sissel Rønbeck, after having sent 11 letters asking for a meeting about Titania. The demand was that Sissel Rønbeck would close the Titania-case, once and for all.
  • Together with Natur & Youth, Bellona carries out a two-month cruise along the Norwegian coast, from the Swedish border to Kristiansand, under the slogan "Keep the dish clean"
  • Bellona takes action against the Norwegian metal recycling company Ring Teigen.
  • Bellona digs up large amounts of toxic wastes on a shut down waste deposit site close to the Norwegian ironworks’ sheet-iron factory on Laksevåg.
  • An inspection at the scrap merchant the London Brothers in Oslo, discloses several toxins being stored illegally – among others PCB.
  • The fight against the industrial giant Norsk Hydro sets off. Bellona claims that the chlorine factory on Herøya discharges large amounts of quicksilver. The management denies, but given some time, they slowly starts to admit discharges amounting to several tons of the toxin. Bellona arranges community action and reports the company.
  • Investigations executed by Bellona itself, show discharges of 160 tons of quicksilver.
  • Bellona takes action against the depot connected to the chlorine plant in Borregård, and proves discharges of quicksilver.


  • The mapping and inspecting of Norwegian industries continues, and several cases initiated the previous year, proceeds.
  • The Ministry of Justice and the Police withdraws Bellona’s approval of hiring civil workers, because one civil worker was responsible for the press contact during the community action against Ring Teigen in 1987.
  • A community action against Ifa Alna in Bergen discloses large amounts of unsecured hazardous waste.
  • Together with Natur & Youth (NU), Bellona takes community action against Kammerfoss Bruk, close to Kragerø, where NU prior to this had discovered 40 casks of heavy oil dug down close to the waterside.
  • Together with the Ålesund-branch of NU, Bellona digs up leaking casks of toxins and other types of wastes close to the two enterprises Porolon Ltd. and Miljørens Ltd. This happens at the same time as the Norwegian industrial association arranges a conference on environment in Ålesund.
  • Bellona criticises Hydro for discharging huge amounts of dioxins. Later Hydro spends over NOK 350 million on reducing their discharges.
  • Bellona publishes the CD Norwegian Discharges (Norske Utslipp) with a wide range of contributors from the Norwegian music industry.
  • The Norwegian writer Ingvar Ambjørnsen writes a book about Bellona: The Goddess that became a watchdog (Gudinna som ble vaktbikkje).


  • The first issue of the Bellona Magazine is published.
  • A better boat replaces M/S Bellona: M/S Genius
  • Bellona buys its first electric car in Switzerland, accompanied by expert on solar energy Harald Røstvik, and two of the members of the pop group a-ha, Morten Harket and Magne Furuholmen.
  • Again Bellona occupies the office of the minister of the environment, Sissel Rønbeck, protesting against the delay of the Titania-case. In on the occupation is NU and Greenpeace. Later, the same year Bellona blocks the loading installation of Titania by chaining themselves to the building. The activists end up being chased away by local village inhabitants.
  • The Russia work begin. Together with people from the Pasvik area in the northern part of Norway, Bellona demonstrates on the Russian border against sulphur discharges from the nickel plants.


  • 200 angry inhabitants of Sogndal chase the two Bellona-leaders, Fredric Hauge and Rune Haaland, out of the village when they try to meet the minister of the environment, Kristin Hille Valla, during an inspection at Titania.
  • The government decides that the waste from Titania shall be stored on shore.
  • Bellona activists chain themselves to a trailer filled with PCB-waste from Hydro Aluminium on Karmøy, protesting against the export of the waste. The waste ends up being sent back.
  • A community action on Borregård chlorine plant show that 10 out of 14 tests are up to three times higher than the discharge limits decided by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority. Bellona reports the company.
  • Subsequent to a bureaucratic marathon, the electric car is put on the road. For a while it seemed like the car would have to be registered as a diesel-run caravan.
  • Environmentalists protest with the Bellona-boat Genius against Russian bomb testing on Novaja Zemlja.
  • Bellona takes action against the nuclear plant in Halden. The background for the action is the proposal for national budget. The government wants to increase the funds to the nuclear plant and cut back on the funding of renewed sources of energy.
  • Bellona activists, armed with chains and a fighting spirit, arrive Odda in rubber boats in order to force the Norzink management to clean up their old environmental sins. However, after a five-hour long meeting with the trade union, the parties come to an agreement.
  • Bellona blocks the waste deposit on the nickel plant Falconbridge in Kristiansand for three weeks. Bellona claims that the company has dumped special waste illegally. According to the demand from Bellona, it is agreed to store the waste in a mountain hollow.
  • Three Bellona activists chain themselves to a closing valve in the pump house of Odda Melting Plant, demanding that the company reduces its discharges. On a committee meeting the same day, the company agrees to reduce the discharges.


  • Actions against Nikkel and Olivin in Ballangen in North Norway, results in the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority closing down the plant the following day. Several more actions are undertaken during the autumn, due to breaches of licence from the company’s side.
  • Bellona takes action against Bergmetall Ag-Service in Oslo because the enterprise releases photochemicals into the sewage pipes. Shortly afterwards the enterprise reinforces their industrial plant.
  • In cooperation with Friends of the Earth Norway (FoEN), Greenpeace, Nature & Youth and the Future in our Hands (FIOH), Bellona says no to the building of a gas plant and a methanol factory.
  • The minister for the environment, Thorbjørn Berntsen, asks Bellona to ‘take it easy’. The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority is appealed to death by the Environmental Foundation Bellona. – Now they will have to go easier on us, so that we can work undisturbed.
  • Bellona manages to get inside the LKAB in Narvik to inspect the transformer containing PCB oil. Afterwards, Bellona reports the company.
  • Bellona wish to take some samples from Hydro’s dumping ground at Notodden, but is denied access and is forced to the ground by police officers. Later, the dump is secured in accordance with the demands from Bellona.
  • Takes action against Tinfoss Titan & Iron (TTI), and discloses several hundred casks of illegally stored special waste. Further surveillance of the factory proves that the waste is discharged directly into the sea. Later the special waste gets secured.
  • Bellona reports Borregaard for discharging quicksilver into the communal sewage pipe.


  • Bellona takes action against the old shipwreck Global Ling in Narvik because the vessel represents a threat to the environment. The ship is returned.
  • Norwegian Fats- and Glue Industry in Dønnum is inspected several times. The factory is in such a poor condition that Bellona decides it ought to be closed down, and some time later it is.
  • Bellona takes action against Hydro Porsgrunn for dredging in the Frierfjord. The rules regulating dredging of industrial plants are radically tightened.
  • Bellona visits the reprocessing plant in Mayak in Russia for the first time. The site is reckoned the most contaminated place on earth. A report from the visit is presented on the environmental conference in Rio.
  • Bellona presents the chairman of Notodden with a cask of waste from Hydros contaminant deposit, in order to expedite the plans of moving the deposit.
  • The American waste giant Waste Management, with a rather impaired reputation, wishes to buy into the waste deposit on Langøya. Bellona responds with a chain blockage, and Waste Management withdraws from Norway.


  • Bellona goes to the Shetland Islands to overlook the clean-up after the oil spill from "Braer".
  • Shell plans to drill for oil in the Barents Sea. Bellona takes action with the ship Genius.
  • Bellona discloses 1013 casks of radioactive waste dug down close to the test reactor at Kjeller.
  • The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs goes inn, and financially supports Bellona’s work in Russia.
  • A new action against Langøya. Norwegian Waste Management Ltd., the owners of the deposit, is reported after having dumped 400,000 cubic metres of contaminated water directly into the Oslofjord. Furthermore, Bellona demands that the Ministry of the Environment provides money to handle the waste at the island securely. The discharges are terminated and the owners invest according to the demands from Bellona.
  • Bellona presses charges against Statoil for the exploration drilling for oil in the Barents Sea in the winter season.


  • Bellona’s Frederic Hauge and Sigurd Enge are in the North-Troms city court, sentenced to pay fines of 10,000 NOK plus legal costs of 15,000 NOK for their action against Shell’s exploration drilling in the Barents Sea.
  • Bellona is accused of blackmailing at the national daily newscast (Dagsrevyen), and replies with pressing a libel action. The case resulted in settlement and public regret from the editorial office of Dagsrevyen during broadcasting.
  • Bellona launches the report Sources of radioactive contamination in Murmansk and Arkhangel counties. In connection to the launching, the Bellona-office in Murmansk is opened.
  • Bellona prepares to fight against the mining giant Rio Tinto Zink. The company plans mining on Finnmarksvidda (in North of Norway), but recedes after massive protests.
  • The electric car is towed by the notary public and sold on a forced sale because Bellona consistently has refused to pay toll road taxes and parking fees for the car. Bellona believes it is necessary with such tax exemptions in order to get more electric cars on the road. Later, the buyer of the car returns it to Bellona.
  • Bellona’s Russian team gets inside an unsecured fence surrounding the world’s largest storage of nuclear weapons. On the same site, production of weapons grade plutonium is undertaken.
  • Environmentalists from both Bellona and Nature & Youth block a train transport of nuclear waste from Finland on the border to Russia. Shortly afterwards the Finnish Parliament agrees to stop the disposal of Finnish nuclear waste in Russia from 1997onwards.
  • EU’s Commissioner for the Environment, Ioannis Paleokrassas, joins Bellona on a trip to the Kola Peninsula in order to take the environmental problems into closer view. A shocked commissioner promises EU assistance. Shortly afterwards the EU Parliament puts forward a strong appeal to the EU Commission to implement initiatives on the Kola Peninsula.
  • Bellona-leader Frederic Hauge is sentenced to 90 days imprisonment for conscientious objection. Hauge opposes to serve in the armed force because this may interfere with the cooperation with the Russians.
  • The Ministry for the Environment puts forward a historic decision: The discharge authorisation of the Norwegian Fats and Glue Industry, department Dønnum, is withdrawn.


  • Bellona takes action against the Gyrodactylus salaris infected hatchery close to the Enare Sea in Finland. Bellona and Norwegian authorities are concerned that the parasite killing salmon would spread to the Tana watercourse. Later, Finnish authorities shut down the hatchery.
  • Norwegian Fats and Glue Industry is reinvestigated. The factory is reported.
  • Bellona launches a report stating that Norway can meet the climate goals without reducing the oil production.
  • Bellona’s Russian department launches the work paper Reprocessing plants in Siberia.
  • Bellona criticises Statoil and Aker for their engagement in the military dictatorship Nigeria, where several environmentalists have been executed. Together with several other organisations, Bellona demands that Norway withdraws from Nigeria, and a postcard campaign against Statoil is arranged.
  • Parts of a new report from Russia are launched on a press conference in Moscow. The subject this time is the nuclear waste close to the marine base Zapadnaja Litsa.
  • NOAH Langøya was fined NOK 75,000 after Bellona reported the company for large discharges of vanadium-contaminated liquid.
  • Hydro Porsgrunn chooses to remove alkylphenols from their PVC production, after Bellona put pressure on the company. Alkylphenols are a well-known environmental toxin, with a hormone-copying effect.
  • Bellona visits Usinsk in Russia several times in order to survey the immense oil discharges in the area.
  • FSB – the former KGB – takes action against Bellona. Bellona-employees at the office in Murmansk as well as other Russian contacts are interrogated and equipment are confiscated.
  • Murmansk Shipping Company and the EU sign a contract concerning investigation of the storage vessel Lepse. Lepse is situated by the dock in Murmansk, and stores large quantities of nuclear fuel rods on board. Bellona fears that the vessel might capsize.


  • After demands from Bellona and others, the Ministry for Oil and Energy and the Ministry for the Industry decide that the oil platform Odin will be recycled rather than dumped in the sea.
  • Bellona demands an improved administration of lynx, and files a complaint about Norwegian authorities to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
  • The Russian collaborator Aleksandr Nikitin is arrested by the FSB and charged with treason. If found guilty, Nikitin faces at best 10 to 15 years in prison – at worst death penalty. Only after one month in custody he is allowed to see his lawyer.
  • Bellona goes to Wales to supervise the cleanup operation after the oil spill from the Norwegian tanker Sea Empress.
  • Together with the parliamentarian organisation the GLOBE, Bellona arranges a hearing in Brussels about nuclear safety, in which the former general director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Victor Brjukanov, among others, attend.
  • In connection to the G7+1 meeting in Moscow, Bellona launches its report on nuclear waste and sources to radioactive contamination related to the Northern Fleet. Nikitin is one of the co-authors. Later, the FSB confiscates all issues they manage to get their hands on.
  • The Russian president, Boris Jeltsin, said on a press conference during his visit to Norway: "We relinquish all our claims against Bellona". During the same visit he also promised Nikitin a fair trial, something that did not seem to have any notable effect.
  • During a concert in support of Nikitin held in Oslo, Bellona manages to gather 4,000 people. The rock and pop groups Dum Dum Boys and deLillos, as well as the renowned Norwegian violinist Arve Tellefsen performed at the concert. The concert was held in connection to President Jeltsin’s visit to Norway.
  • On June 16th Bellona celebrates its 10-year anniversary.