Tag Archives: Arild Olsen

Guess who’s in the house? Workers aren’t sure where they can live after latest avalanches redefines ‘community in transition’

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Eighteen months ago there were scary headlines about Longyearbyen losing 30 percent of its population and panicky questions about who would fill all those empty homes where laid off coal miners recently lived.

Now the panic is how to squeeze a non-declining population into a suddenly alarming shortage of housing being sold and rented at skyrocketing prices.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: Evacuees allowed to collect belongings from 3-6 p.m. Thursday as city grapples with housing solution

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Residents of 55 evacuated apartments and houses who suddenly found themselves homeless for the long-term Wednesday night will be allowed back into their homes between 3 and 6 p.m. to retrieve belongings, according to The Governor of Svalbard. There will also be additional opportunities at a time to be determined.

The question for many is where they’ll be moving those belongings to.

New abnormal: How often will we have to evacuate homes this winter due to extreme storms? And for good later?

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We may be in for a winter of discontent, but that’s far preferable to another time of tragedy.

Hundreds of Longyearbyen residents were forced to evacuate their homes for the second time in less than a year earlier this month due to extreme weather and officials said it’s entirely possible more will occur in the near future. What nobody can realistically predict, of course, is just how often.

It’s official – we’re in a depression: 16 percent drop of Svalbard’s economic activity in 2015 fueled by 40 percent drop in mining and transport

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A depression is defined as a 10 percent drop in economic activity or a downturn lasting more than two years. Svalbard has already blown through the first qualification with a 15.8 percent drop in activity in 2015 and stands a good chance of meeting the second this year.

The downturn was caused by a 39 percent drop in mining-related activity, which in turn fueled a 43.1 percent drop in transportation and storage, activity, according to Statistics Norway.

But despite the sharp downturn, employment in the archipelago actually rose one percent compared to 2014 due largely to increased activity in tourism and recreation, with tourism surpassing mining as the biggest employer. That may be a sign of Longyearbyen making a quick and drastic change from its century-long history as a coal mining one due to what the agency described as a “rapid growth in part-time jobs.”

Big Mac attack on Svalbard? Greenpeace says anti-fishing pact ‘big win,’ but impact on industry’s expansion dubious

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Greenpeace says it’s big news McDonald’s is agreeing not to buy cod caught in Svalbard and other Arctic waters. It might be even bigger if McDonald’s hadn’t stopped buying cod altogether nearly a decade ago.

The “big win for the Arctic” announced by the environmental organization this week involves a voluntary agreement companies such as the fast food giant, British grocer Tesco, and several seafood companies such as Young’s Seafood not to support an expansion of commercial fishing in the Arctic.

‘White’ out: Government’s new blueprint for Svalbard does little to alter natural transition into post-mining society

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There’s no magical “big” solution, no major new goals not already stated and – aside from 10 million kroner for infrastructure related to the Dec. 19 avalanche – no new hardcore funding commitments.

The long-awaited revision of the “Svalbard Message” – a “white paper” outlining the Norwegian’s policy goals for the archipelago – largely refers to commitments already made to keep coal mining on life support for the next few years while encouraging an expansion of both the size and diversity of private industries, plus an expansion of education and research activities.

Flats-out faith: City expects 15M insurance for five lost employee homes, buys replacements before settlement

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It may take most of the year to determine how many of Longyearbyen’s homes are too risky to live in, but city leaders are don’t see much point in waiting for the paperwork to clear before buying new ones for employees living in those destroyed by the avalanche.

Is someone to blame? Little action taken despite more than 20 years of avalanche risk warnings; many asking why

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The catastrophe occurred within seconds. But there was at least 23 years to heed warnings and take actions that might have prevented it.

As the immediate shock and living rearrangements from the Dec. 19 avalanche pass, local leaders and others are asking if someone is to blame. A series of reports since 1992 has highlighted settled areas of Longyearbyen that are at risk of avalanches – including Sukkertoppen, where December’s deadly slide occurred.

AVALANCHE UPDATE: All 11 homes buried completely destroyed insurance company says; city leaders propose new ‘neighborhood’ at Elvesletta

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All 11 homes buried in the Dec. 19 avalanche are a total loss and, while many furnishings and other items inside may be salvagable, building a new neighborhood in a safer area will likely be preferable to rebuilding the wrecked one, according to city and insurance officials.

Down to 98…or 28: Minister says Svea and Lunckfjell will likely shut temporarily or permanently‚ Mine 7 will employ one or two shifts

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It’s not exactly an answer, but anyone still clinging to the hope the government will help Store Norske be more than mere shadow of its former self should probably give up.

A best-case scenario of 98 remaining employees at the mining company and a worst-case of fewer than 30 now appears likely, based on statements by Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland in a Dec. 6 letter to Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen.