Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Nov. 13, 2016


Avalanche risk report to be unveiled Thursday at UNIS
A long-awaited report assessing the landslide and avalanche dangers in Longyearbyen is scheduled to be presented at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at The University Centre in Svalbard. “There we will deliver an updated assessment of what the avalanche danger is for different types of slides in populated areas in Longyearbyen” said Knut Hoseth, acting regional manager for the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate’s northern division. The report was originally scheduled to be released in October, but the consulting company hired to do the assessment and the directorate both took extra time because “we must be absolutely certain that what is presented is of good quality,” Hoseth said. He declined to state if the report will call for large-scale changes in protection measures or declaring some buildings unsafe to occupy.  Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen said he’s pleased the directorate has established a local avalanche warning system, but hopes steps can be taken so that it is eventually not necessary.

Svalbard police officer nominated for top honor for avalanche duties
Trond Olsen, a police chief lieutenant for The Governor of Svalbard, is one of five nominees for this year’s Æresprisen award due to his rescue efforts after the avalanche last Dec. 19. The top honorary award by Politiforum, the official magazine of the Norwegian Police Federation selects finalists using a jury panel and the winner will be determined in an online poll. Olsen lived next to the area where the avalanche occurred and was the first police officer on the scene. “The sight that met him when he came out the door was that the entire neighborhood of 11 houses were torn away from their original locations and had been thrown helter-skelter tens of meters from where they stood,” the magazine’s nomination of Olsen states. “He knew that in these houses lived many people that he knew…Trond tackled that in an amazing way. (…) Trond managed to keep his cool and stood steady and calm as a rock in his police role when tragedy was at hand.”