Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 9, 2019


Barentsburg less exposed to avalanches than Longyearbyen, but some buildings at risk
No buildings in Barentsburg need to be moved or demolished, but some – notably the Barentsburg Hotell – would not be built today in their current locations due to the exposure to avalanches, according to the first-ever assessment of the settlement by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. The upper row of buildings closest to the mountainside of the Russian settlement are most exposed, meaning they could be hit by an avalanche every 100 or 1,000 years. Trust Arktikugol, the Russian-owned company that oversees the settlement, requested the assessment because it is making an area plan for the buildings. “They will not need any retroactive effect,” said Ingvild Sæbu Vatn, a project manager at LPO Arkitekter who helped conduct the assessment. “We need to go into more detail in the specifics of the plan to see how we more specifically solve certain proposed measures.” The plan was originally scheduled to be completed in 2016, when no danger zones were specified, but climate change has resulted in new conditions resulting in the upper areas being declared a potential risk.

Four fail weekend snowmobile sobriety checkpoint
A sobriety checkpoint Saturday at Svalbard Snøscooterutleie where snowmobilers head out onto trips via Adventdalen resulted in four of 85 drivers abandoning their plans, according to The Governor of Svalbard. “Two of those blew and got too high values (on breath-alcohol tests), the other two did not want to blow at all and dropped their trips,” said Police Chief Lt. Espen Olsen. None of them had actually started to drive, so no licenses were revoked, he said. The checkpoints are a regular occurrence along popular routes at the edge of Longyearbyen as well as some well-traveled areas in the field.

Man asking around for drugs pleads guilty to related charges as trial scheduled to start
A man in his 30s who attracted attention by asking people around Longyearbyen if they knew of anyone who could sell him drugs has ultimately decided to plead guilty the same week he was scheduled to stand trial on numerous related charges, according to The Governor of Svalbard. An investigation following his inquires last June revealed he was illegally in possession of amphetamine, alprazolam, morphine, heroin, ecstasy and benzodiazepine – at least some of which he obtained by mail – and he gave police a false name and did not have a valid driver’s license. His trial was scheduled to start last week, with Nord-Troms District Court holding a rare hearing in Longyearbyen, since he was contesting a charge of driving under the influence. But “late developments” resulted in his admitting guilt to that and other charges, said Lt. Gov. Berit Sagfossen.