Category Archives: Svalbard

Going postal: After getting screwed on the last day of Santa’s giant mailbox, owner stages a farewell gathering and break-in


Update 5:30 p.m. Sunday: Workers hired by Po Lee Lin began disassembling the mailbox Sunday afternoon, although it will largely be intact and visible one final night since the work was limited to putting up scaffolding and removing a few preliminary screws. Jan Olov Dahl, supervisor of the project, said the work should take about three days. Details added to story below.

Original story: For a final night the nearly 10-meter-high Santa’s mailbox was lit up so people could come and say goodbye before its owner started taking it down the next day. Except plans to let people take a final look inside it were thwarted when the city sealed the entrance door at the back with screws. So, after being on the losing end of many months of legal battles, Po Lin Lee staged one final act of defiance.

Fake fur: Course simulating polar bear attacks and proper responses tests induces fear and chills


Feel like you’re fine going out in the winter wilderness because you’re a decent shot at the target range?  How about when you’re panicked and winded, and have to turn quickly to shoot an attacking moving target with just your mounted flashlight as a visual aid in pitch blackness?

Two lawsuits challenging Norway’s control of Arctic resources may have drastic – and drastically different – impacts


Make Norway share its oil and other natural resources in the vicinity of Svalbard, or prevent drilling altogether?

Two lawsuits now before the court are challenging Norway’s authority in far north on the same basic issue, but with drastically different goals. One by the European Union is seeking equal access to resources for all countries that have signed the Svalbard Treaty, while two environmental organizations are suing Norway’s government for allowing drilling in new areas of the Arctic.

‘No criminal offense considered proven’ in deadly 2015 avalanche, prosecutors rule; parents of girl killed says findings boosts civil case


No criminal charges are warranted for the actions by Svalbard’s governor, Longyearbyen city officials and others related to a 2015 avalanche that destroyed 11 homes and killed two people, the Norwegian Bureau for the Investigation of Police Affairs announced Wednesday.

But an attorney for the parents of one of the people killed said the bureau’s findings nonetheless bolster a civil case accusing officials of negligence by failing to recognize the threat to the homes and evacuate the area.

BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE: Large-scale search ending Thursday; bad weather reportedly caused helicopter to suffer icing and electrical failure


A large-scale search for the seven bodies missing after a helicopter crashed into the sea near Barentsburg is scheduled to end Thursday, two weeks after the crash occurred, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The decision means officials are also giving up hope of finding the memory device from the flight data recorder, but an investigator told a Russian newspaper the crash was “provoked” by poor weather that caused icing and electrical failure. 

In-the-red storm rising: Meteorological institute may eliminate staff at Hopen station, majority at Bjørnøya due to deficits


Eliminating five of the nine employees at the Bjørnøya Meteorological Station and automating operations at the Hopen station where four people now work is being considered by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute to help cope with a long-term deficit, according to the agency’s director.

BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE: Researchers were supposed to take boat instead of fatal flight; body found near wreckage identified


Three researchers killed when a helicopter crashed into the sea near Barentsburg weren’t initially supposed to be aboard the flight that took off from Pyramiden, but joined the five crew members aboard the aircraft when weather prevented a boat from reaching the abandoned Russian settlement, according to an official at the company that owned the helicopter.

BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE: 24 lifejackets found in helicopter that crashed; diminishing daylight, conditions hampering search for passengers


The helicopter was found largely intact on a seabed 209 meters beneath the surface. Twenty-four unused lifejackets (out of a possible 25) were inside the aircraft, but none of the eight passengers. And so far the only clues to what happened to them is one body, a lifejacket, a shoe, bag and jacket found scattered within 130 meters of the wreckage.

Which means as large numbers of Russian and Norwegian recovery workers continue searching the waters and coastlines in the vicinity nine days after the crash near Barentsburg in diminishing daylight and weather conditions, the challenge of determining what caused the crash and what happened immediately afterward is likely to be formidable.

BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE (11:30 A.M. SATURDAY): Helicopter raised, search for bodies continues


A helicopter that crashed near Barentsburg was raised from the seabed at about 2 a.m. Saturday, according to The Accident Investigation Board Norway. No bodies were found in the aircraft and recovery workers are continuing to search coastlines for the passengers.

BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE (7:30 P.M. FRIDAY): Raising of helicopter delayed again; ‘piloting error’ may have caused crash; legality of flight questioned


The raising of a helicopter that crashed into the sea last week near Barentsburg has been delayed until at least late Friday night or Saturday in order to ensure no bodies are in the immediate vicinity of the crash site, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Meanwhile, a lifejacket was found Friday about 90 meters from the wreckage, a “piloting error” was cited as the preliminary cause of the crash and questions were raised about whether the flight carrying scientific researchers was legally authorized.