Dump chumps: It’s not just tourists littering cabin areas near town; complaint to be filed about debris in Todalen

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Svalbard’s coastlines and seas are getting increasingly trashed from afar, but it appears some local residents are doing their part to “contribute” to the growing pollution problem on land.

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There have been numerous recent complaints about tourists trashing cabin areas while making uninvited visits. But Birger Amundsen, an author and former Svalbardposten editor whose experience in Svalbard dates back more than 40 years, posted a notice and several photos this week on a community Facebook page this week denouncing what appears to be the wreckage of residents.

“The concern I have is I’ve noticed that a new type of people have established themselves in the cabin area,” wrote Amundsen, who has had a cabin in Todalen area since 1993. “A species that litters and messes up the road with wrecked snowmobiles, pallets, cabin waste, building materials and all kinds of junk. It has picked up in recent years. On my round yesterday I counted 10 to 15 wrecked snowmobiles, among other things.”

Amundsen said he plans to present a report about the situation to Store Norske, which owns the land, and The Governor of Svalbard.

“This memo will be sent within the next two weeks,” he wrote. “By that time have each and every one of you ample opportunity to remove your own junk. After that time I  will leave it up to Store Norske and the governor to decide what should be done.”

While most respondents denounced the debris, Nora Grøndal noted “it may have emerged out of the snow that has melted,” which meant people wanting to clear their wreckage couldn’t during the spring, “and many are out of town for the holidays.”

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Building materials, wrecked snowmobiles and other debris lies scattered near cabins in Todalen, left. At right, a large pile of trash is dumped next to a dumpster near Longyearbyen Harbor. Photo by Reidar Sorensen.

Respondents also noted there are similar problems in many other areas in and near Longyearbyen.

A few days before Amundsen’s post, for example, another picture was posted by Reidar Sorensen showing a large pile of trash next to a waste disposal container in the area near the harbor.

“Who’s responsible for this?” he wrote. “Not very pretty to look at for all the guests who will travel here on a cruise.”

Not everyone was ready to pin the blame on locals in this instance.

“It looks sad out there, but most of it is probably just from these cruise boats,” responded Anders Magne Lindseth.