Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 9, 2016

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NVE: ‘We did not abandon Longyearbyen’ before Dec. 19 avalanche
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), which was given the responsibility for avalanche prevention in Longyearbyen in 2013, is denying it failed to take sufficient action to minimize the impact of a massive avalanche last Dec. 19. But the agency, during a 2014 meeting with local emergency officials and others, stated “it is currently not a priority (to establish) an alert for flood and avalanche dangers in the form that is established on mainland Norway, and there are no plans for such notifications,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by Svalbard-posten.  Knut Aune Hoseth, acting manager for NVE’s northern region, said the agency had insufficient data suggesting Svalbard should be a priority. “On the mainland, there is a far more developed system for climate data,” he said. The NVE did establish a pilot project to monitor avalanche hazards during the winter of 2014/15 and helped establish a full-scale monitoring system after the Dec. 19 avalanche. When asked if the system should have existed beforehand, Hoseth said “we have from the time we took over responsibility worked actively and very coherently on the main areas that we are working on the mainland.”

You can now ignore glacier, surf the internet in Isfjorden
It’s now possible to call and surf the internet in most of Isfjorden and many other areas outside Longyearbyen after the last of a series of 4G transmitters was installed this month by Telenor Norway. “If we leave Svea out, we have upgraded all the base stations we have on Svalbard to 4G,” said Bjørn Amundsen, the company’s managing director. The final installation on Skolten, the highest point with a transmitter, will at least in theory offer coverage to the Noorderlicht ship when it is frozen into the ice of Isfjorden during the winter. Adjustments have also been made to allow coverage at Longyearbyen’s shooting range, and the long-deprived Russian settlement of Barentsburg now has a transmitter on Trust Artikugol’s administrative building. Amundsen said the company is still evaluating whether to install a transmitter at Isfjord Radio before snowmobile season starts.