Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Dec. 31, 2019


A cargo ship that brings food and other essential supplies to Longyearbyen will be out of service for three weeks starting Jan. 10, a memorial pays tribute to the 26 miners killed 100 years ago in Store Norske’s deadliest accident and the city unveils plans for a new environmental station at Hotellneset. 


Disruptions in shipments to Svalbardbutikken have resulted in empty spaces on shelves over the years, but a store official said he hopes a three-week absence of the cargo ship this month will not result in significant problems. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Cargo ship’s three-week absence to affect Svalbardbutikken, others

The MS Norbjørn, which shuttles between the mainland and Svalbard, will undergo recertification and be out of service beginning Jan. 10.  That means Svalbardbutikken, as well as others, will have to manage without the shipments of goods the ship brings. Ronny Strømnes, the store’s managing director, said he hopes there are as few noticeable disruptions as possible before the ship is scheduled to resume service Jan. 30. “There is no need to start hoarding,” he said. “For our part, this just means that we have to be careful about planning. What we do not get up with the boat, we must take on the plane.” Originally the plan was for the last boat to arrive in Longyearbyen on Dec. 16, but discussions with Posten and Bring shortened the time by more than half.

Design for new environmental station unveiled


A new proposed environmental station offering recycling and storage is scheduled to be built near Svalbard Airport starting in August. Image by Longva Architects.

A new environmental station at Hotellneset will be 3,400 square meters in size and include a separate area when individuals can store useful items they no longer need. Plans for a station have been in the works for ten years, but concerns about the location were expressed by Avinor because of worries of birds gathering at the location next to Svalbard Airport. The city, in response, is implementing a design with shorter buildings and that is fully enclosed.  The Governor of Svalbard also expressed reluctance due to the potential for ground pollution, but the city was able to get an exemption from extensive surveying requirements due to the importance of the project. “The governor has emphasized in this case that a well-functioning waste management system (including a recycling station) is a fundamental factor for society’s functioning,” the decision by the governor’s office noted in granting the rare exemption. The work is scheduled to start in August and be completed by next year.

Store Norske marks 100-year anniversary of deadliest accident


Mine 1A, on a mountainside on the east side of Longyearbyen, is the site of Store Norske’s deadliest accident on Jan. 3, 1920. Photo courtesy of Store Norske.

A simple ceremony observing the 100-year anniversary Store Norske’s deadliest accident, when 26 miners in Mine 1A were killed in an explosion, is scheduled at 2:15 p.m. Thursday at the memorial at the base of the mine’s mountain. Representatives from The Governor of Svalbard, Longyearbyen’s local government and Svalbard Church are among those planning to attend. Store Norske mining manager Per Nilssen will lay a memorial wreath. According to Store Norske Spitsbergen, the explosion in an internal workplaces, and external temperatures of minus 25 degrees Celsius and strong winds complicated dramatic rescue efforts. Retrieving the dead also proved difficult due to heavy smoke and unbreathable air. The memorial at the mountain contains the name of all the company’s workers killed while on the job.