Category Archives: Svalbard

RELAPSE: Norway postpones final ‘reopening’ stage yet again due to Delta COVID-19 variant as French cruise company cancels its scheduled Svalbard voyages for the rest of the year

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The final stage of the “reopening” of Norway – and further relaxation of restrictions on travelling to Svalbard – is again being postponed due to concerns about the Delta strain of COVID-19, with the Aug. 1 target date now pushed until at least mid-August, officials said Wednesday.

10 YEARS AFTER UTØYA: Five Longyearbyen youths were at the youth camp where 69 people were killed July 22, 2011 – here’s how it affected what they and/or their families are doing now

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Photo of Longyearbyen’s 10-year anniversary memorial of July 22 attacks by Eira Egner / Svalbardposten.

Einar Buø says “we have seen surprisingly little anger and cursing” during the 10 years since his son, Johannes, 14, was among the youngest of the 69 people killed during the July 22 attack by a lone gunman at Utøya. But he wonders if that’s an entirely good thing.

Buø, while like other survivors affected by that day emphasizes focusing on the present and future, also shares with them a “never forgot” mentality and like many is seeking to counter the hateful mentality triggering Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack that killed at total of 77 people when the shooting followed a bombing by the same man in Oslo.

OUR EDITOR GET EXPELLED: Here’s what the process is like when the governor forces somebody to leave Svalbard

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(As Icepeople’s editor – and everything else – for the past 13 years, I have written numerous articles about the unique provision that anyone who cannot support themselves must leave Svalbard. On Wednesday I was forced to leave on orders from the governor. Because I figure that – like going to prison – it’s something many people are curious about, but few will experience, this is what it was like to go through “the process.”)

I heard a vehicle approaching sometime after 11 p.m. while laying in my bed of cushions and sleeping bags on the porch of Longyearbyen Camping. The sound of tires taking abuse on the poorly maintained dirt road was the same as the occasional other vehicles passing by to reach the scattering of cabins beyond. Like the others, as soon as the vehicle passed the building the sound faded quickly.

But seconds later the sound of tires coming to a halt came from the other side of the building, followed immediately by two doors of something heavy-duty slamming shut.

And I thought “this is it.”

‘A BETTER, MORE INCLUSIVE AND MORE TOLERANT FUTURE’: An interview with Viljar Hanssen 10 years after surviving Utøya

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Viljar Hanssen, 27, was a high school student in Longyearbyen when he became one of the most recognizable survivors of the July 22, 2011, massacre at Utøya. He suffered near-fatal injuries after being shot five times, ultimately losing an eye and suffering severe impairment of his motor functions.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Presenting the first-ever “sustainabilty” print issue of Icepeople as we return to our four-page origins to save trees and Covid contamination (and money)

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In what we’ll call a return to the glorious original days when Icepeople was a mere four-page bathroom reader, presenting the first-ever “sustainability” print issue (PDF), which in part legitimately is due to local establishments expressing concern about distributing large paper editions given the major effort to reduce single-use plastics and other waste.

‘(NEAR) RECORD NUMBER OF ANIMALS AND TWO CRUEL DEATHS’: Annual Svalbard reindeer count shows Mother Nature was kind, but humans discarding steel wires were a fatal snag

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Photo by Trine Lise Sviggum Helgerud / Norwegian Polar Institute

It was a highly favorable winter for nearly 1,700 Svalbard reindeer, the second-highest count ever in an annual census, but for researchers conducting the count it’s two reindeer who didn’t survive who are much in mind as they were fatally snagged in wires discarded by humans.

GREAT GUNS – RIGHT TO SHOOT FURTHER LIMITED BY GOV’T: Ban on shooting w/in 500 meters of structures expands beyond Longyearbyen to Barentsburg, Vannposten and Pyramiden

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You need a weapon to get from Longyearbyen to other settlements in Svalbard, but don’t try firing it when you get there – it’s now illegal to do so within 500 meters of buildings and facilities as a shooting ban zone in Longyearbyen now applies to those other areas.

Alas, after 13 years I am leaving Svalbard on the governor’s orders because my finances and health cannot fulfill the self-sufficiency rules here…but Icepeople most definitely is not

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Screenshot from story/photo in Svalbardposten courtesy of Siri Åbø Wiersen

After 13 years and the hope I could publish Icepeople for the rest of my life in Svalbard, I am departing next Wednesday on orders from the governor because my finances and health have deteriorated to the point I cannot exist under the self-sufficiency rules here.

I cannot emphasize enough: this is not the end of Icepeople, as I will continue to publish news about Svalbard (thanks to the virus and my health I’ve been doing a lot of it by email, phone, etc. the past year or so anyhow) – and more importantly there are people here who will be contributing material of the sort that can only come from folks who are actually here.

METROPOLIS OF MICROFIBERS IN THE SEA: Longyearbyen’s lack of waste treatment means residents send as many particles from washed clothes into local waters as Vancouver

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A lot of folks think it’s pretty crappy Longyearbyen doesn’t treat its wastewater before discharging it into the supposedly pristine waters at its edge, but it turns out locals doing a different type of water cleansing are contributing to the problem in the form of microfibers coming loose from clothes they wash.

Because the water containing those fibers is untreated, the amount generated by Longyearbyen’s 2,400 residents is the same as the 1.3 million residents who live in Vancouver, Canada, according to a new study.

RISING TIDE SOAKS ALL BOATS: 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees necessary to cover costs, city says; some local and smaller mariners in particular feel swamped

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A 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees is causing exactly the wave of controversy one might expect: City officials say it’s necessary to pay for costs (especially after reducing many municipal fees last year to help locals suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic), while boat owners say the sudden hike a horrible burden due to the ongoing virus-caused economic crisis and a series of port fee hikes the past several years.