Russian mayor who escaped trawling charges in Svalbard faces charges in homeland
Arctic expedition a draining experience for South Molton adventurer
Wounded soldiers seek to become first amputees to make unsupported trek to North Pole
Should future U.S. Supreme Court members be raised in Svalbard?
North Pole hike called 'unworldly' adventure
First hole in North Pole ice drilled by explorers
Seed vault, barcoding wildlife among best tools for biodiversity crisis, report finds
Sea treaty has broad support, but little chance of ratification
New online service offers better weather forecasting for boaters
World's largest barque to visit Svalbard during northern expedition
Power struggle threatens Norway's polar research
Norway establishes new High North expert group
Life on polar bear patrol
Arctic cold, ice extends oil spill response window
Chinese use research in Svalbard to prepare for ice-free Arctic
New youth counsel for northern Norway elected
No race for Arctic, Norwegian expert says
Expedition yacht in development for round-world journey including Spitsbergen
British students prepare to study climate change in Svalbard
Couple has close call near North Pole
High dioxin levels in halibut near Svalbard
Ghost from Svalbard to star in kids' book
Norway, Russia need better cooperation in Arctic, says Fridtjof Nansen Institute head
Norwegian architects create space for nature
Renting an amateur radio hut in Svalbard
Flip flops from Svalbard washing up ashore?
EU satellite to check climate change impact on ice
The man who collects seeds to save mankind
Trekking Earth's last degree for biking charities
Glacier holes you can crawl into
CO2 levels rising despite recession
Review: 'CSI Svalbard' is 'explosive' (satire)
Research access to eastern areas in Svalbard workshop
Is Arctic methane on the move?
Ship traffic risk in Svalbard assessed
Team of four to attempt ski crossing of Spitsbergen for charity
Land in Svalbard rising due to melting glaciers and ice caps
Applications being accepted for IPY Field School at UNIS
Polar bear poo helps in superbug hunt
Mine tunnel workers in Svalbard handle shift work well
Exploration or exploitation in Svalbard?
BBC documentary follows 'polar bear kebob' man
Institute features 'Art Climate Change,' covering three years' work in Svalbard
Store Norske getting complaints about coal quality, plans 200 million kroner fix
Svalbard: The world's most spectacular science lab
Spending the winter in Ny-Ålesund with underwater robots
Why the pink-footed goose is a CO2 villain
Radisson Blu Polar Hotel gets environmental recognition
Capacity at Longyearbyen Hospital questioned
Snow a boost to Arctic training
Three years' of Svalbard art featured at North American exhibit
Airbus to test military planes in Svalbard
One in eight people depressed during dark season, according to study
Longyearbyen to become first city with 100 percent fiber coverage
Spitsbergen: Black gold heralds new ice age
Northern Norwegian tourism comes to YouTube
Pollution imperils polar bears
Bears studied for antibiotic resistance
Norway, Russia pleased with progress in delineation of Barents Sea
Most Norwegians want Arctic drilling, survey states
Similarities, differences in Antarctic, Svalbard work
Debating the right (survival) suit for the Arctic
The mini ice age starts here
New book details first university sponsored expedition to Antarctica
Sand-filled sleeping bags a big success at Svea
Norway to hunt 1,286 minke whales
Methane release from Arctic seabed stronger than expected
Comparing Earth's current warming to the Pliocene
Everyday life anything but for Polish researchers in Ny-Ålesund
Master gardener: Doomsday horticulture
Pyramiden: The city of frozen dreams
Spitsbergen: Black gold heralds new ice age
Computer simulation from Spitsbergen links climate change, release of methane
'Predator X' among 10 most remarkable monsters of past decade
Pollution from ringed seals up to 15 times higher in Baltic Sea than Svalbard
Longyearbyen carpenter spends third Christmas in Antarctica
Huset cook named new star chef of Eyvind Hellstrøm
The grim Christmas of 1872 on Spitsbergen
Getting the party right for the longest night
Construction company known for landmarks reaches milestone anniversary
Grading the world's northernmost judo club
New cultural center not popular among all in Longyearbyen
Australian researcher honored for study of Svalbard mining pioneer
Booking a trip to the North Pole through Svalbard
Spitsbergen: On the trail of the dragon
Many military concerns on 100th anniversary of Norway's sub program
Polar bears eating their young as ice thins
Billions struggling to stay afloat due to warming, Svalbard researcher says
Norwegian scientists: No armed fight for resources foreseen in the Arctic
Climate threat to alpine species may be overstated, study including Svalbard says
Polar bear sculpture of ice from Svalbard will probably outlast climate summit
Twilight of the ice bear
Svalbard seed vault now houses one-third of world's specimens
Norway sets quota for 2010 minke whale hunt
Polar bear among 85 percent of species on Norwegian 'red list' threatened by habitat changes
Nature's refueling stations for birds migrating from Svalbard
Chasing the northern lights
Global warming and surging glaciers
Mildest November ever on record for Svalbard
U.N. leader, in net chat, discusses Svalbard's, Norway's role in climate fight
Only half as much soot in Svalbard as a few decades ago
Climate 'time bombs' stoke scientists' fears
Attempt to set world record for night divers to include Svalbard participants
Huset: The restaurant at the end of the world
Hurtigruten offering 'Climate Pilgrimage' cruise next May
Gene banks seek to preserve world's crops from climate change
Acid in Arctic waters eating away at shellfish
Documentary review: 'Seed Hunter'
Travel feature: Dogsledding in Svalbard (also: Wild and woolly)
Northallerton prison offer prepares for Arctic walk
The banks that prevent – rather than cause – global crises
3D mapping of Svalbard's ice caves
Seed banks need additional $250 million, experts warn (also: Statement calls for agricultural action in Copenhagen)
U.K. nitrogen feeds bacteria in Svalbard
New National Geographic book features Svalbard
UNIS professor part of debate about new Antarctic radiation monitoring method
Fish, salmon farms and empty oceans
Spanish biologist finds lessons for homeland researchers at UNIS
A climate paradox in Norway, where climate change damage also has benefits
Close encounters of the polar bear kind while kayaking around Spitsbergen
Video: Svalbard, a haven at world's end
Global warming hits reindeer of Norway hard
Hot southern winds mean record delay in freeze of Arctic winter ice
Study: Most of Svalbard's soot brought by wind from other densely populated areas
Sculptor brings 500-kg. ice polar bear from Svalbard to Copenhagen for summit
Missing man, 20, presumed dead in ocean near Bjørnøya
'Fingerprinting' all of Svalbard's plants
Svalbard needs more resources from Norway in global battle for Arctic, author says
Giant block of limestone reveals wealth of Svalbard fossils from Jurassic period
Writer in search of an Arctic role
U.S. wanted nukes in northern Norway during Cold War
'Eden project' documents a disappearing landscape
Study find pollutants harming Svalbard's seabirds
Using gravity and satellites to measure climate change in the Norwegian Arctic
Working to improve emergency response in the north
Seals on thin ice in the Arctic
An ecosystems cruise around Svalbard (and the snowbirds hitching a ride)
'78°N toast' and other works from artists cruising the Arctic
Giant sea beast in U.K. believed to be larger than record-size creature found in Svalbard
Shipping, logistics group establishes base in Longyearbyen
Sinister 20-year-old fish from Svalbard found in freezer; owner wants them ID'd
Seed bank inspires project to preserve threatened coral in 'cryobank'
Artist paid to tow Svalbard 'isle' to U.K. for 2012 Olympics
Agreement reached with Russia on fishing allocation for 2010
What's good for the goose (in Svalbard)...
Write a caption for these Svalbard sunbathers
Important to move forward cautiously in the Arctic, Norway's environmental minister says
Svalbard's tourism inspires ideas in Greenland
UNIS student finds footwear can bring foreign seeds to Svalbard
Svalbard's air traffic down 5.6 percent in September
BBC's Autumnwatch keeping tabs on Svalbard's barnacle geese
Hunting an Arctic asteroid's impact with hovercraft
A husky adventure on Spitsbergen
Cloud Eye Control brings concepts of seed vault, sustainability to multimedia theater
New music trio's goal: Winter gig in Svalbard
India's ocean satellite relays images, data with help from Svalbard
Norway, Russia agree on cod quota increase in Barents Sea for 2010
High North on the agenda at Bergen conference
Greenpeace stops peacefully in Tromsø after Svea protest
Researcher, explorer paint grim picture of Norwegian Arctic 10 years from now
AMASE blog: Farewell to Svalbard
'Geobags' could protest Arctic from rising seas
Polar bear crashes tourist ship, demands lunch
Norwegians most skeptical about climate change among Scandinavians, insurance industry survey says
Arctic Ocean acid 'will dissolve shells of sea creatures within 10 years'
Conservative leader: Global warming is not on our back burner
Greenpeace blocking Svalbard coal shipment
Colorado researcher to present work from NASA project in Svalbard
Iceberg chasing and laser lights
Longyearbyen: The village is growing, but nobody wants to stay
Plumb these depths to fathom climate difficulties
Satellite monitoring permafrost in Svalbard for first time
Explorer recounts close call with polar bear that attacked camp
Summarizing the AMAZE 2009 expedition
Norway looks at oil exploration outside Jan Mayen
Arctic oil temps Norway to seek drilling at 'Gates of Hell'
India launches satellites to supplement polar region monitoring
International artists sailing in Svalbard in October to work on individual projects
Following the voyages of marine microorganisms
Scientists, others say they know too little about Jan Mayen
Arctic microbes in Spitsbergen may mean oil, gas reserves
Conference to focus on flu preparations for Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
Arctic preparations for Mars
Will environmental threats result in new world cooperation?
New Norwegian lottery millionaire says trip to Svalbard 'certainly' in plans
Thaw brings boom in Svalbard's reindeer population
Norway election loss may spark Arctic victory for Shell, Exxon
International treaty establishes plant arks around globe
Interview: Inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
A 'perfect day' for Norwegian seafood on TV
Interview: A U.S. student's summer studying glaciers in Ny-Ålesund
Welcome to the new (and frightening) Arctic
Norwegian radar tested in Svalbard to be on Mars probe
Taking stock of North Pole riches
Slideshow: Incredible polar bear photos from Svalbard
50 percent drop in coal production means Store Norske may lay off 25 percent of staff
NASA testing world's cleanest robot in Svalbard
Shy polar bears fight for survival, but may be increasing in Svalbard
Who was first at the North Pole?
Diary of a dangerous sailing voyage to Svalbard
A photographer's close encounter with a polar bear
More bear encounters on thin ice
Svalbard researchers trying to figure out a good way to store CO2 underground
Engineer, 69, completes 250-km ski trek through Svalbard
Oil drought brings Norway to Arctic
Analysis: Stumbling to Copenhagen after Ban Ki-moon's Svalbard trip
Barentsburg: City of frozen dreams
Another chapter in the Arctic cold war
Young filmmaker grabs top award, trip to Svalbard
Mother Nature 'cries' a river of tears as glacier melts
Contract awarded for 5.3 million kroner fish processing factory in Barentsburg
Halfway through the hunt for Amundsen's plane
Minister: Oil producers morally obligated on climate change
Russia's northernmost ATM more radioactive, farther south than Svalbard's
Portuguese vessel remains detained for cod poaching
Ups and downs of sea level projections
The quiet diplomat, U.N. chief shows his teeth to critics
S. Korean editorial: In defense of Ban Ki-moon
Green Party wants oil and coal production ban in Svalbard, candidate says
Herring season underway
Theft of 548,000 kroner in Kings Bay under investigation
AMASE: Iceberg chasing
Methane seepage in Svalbard heightens pressure for climate treaty
Portuguese trawler detained on suspicion of illegal cod fishing
'The greatest hunter of polar bears'
Cool sailing in Barentsburg
Svalbard church to be first in a 'bell relay' warning about climate change in Arctic
Search for Amundsen's plane underway; progress detailed in expedition blog
AMASE update: The Goddess Athena takes a test drive in Svalbard
Climate change provides record cod catch in Barents Sea
Norway expresses regret for leaked report criticizing U.N. chief
Russia's ocean ecosystem survey includes Spitsbergen
Store Norske hoping for a gold rush on Svalbard
Svalbard governor wants ban on heavy fuel oil
Seed vault to be featured in architect magazine's 'extreme' achievements
Large-scale search for Amundsen starts Aug. 24
AMASE: How to drive a rover on Mars
Norway to limit trawlers beginning in 2010
Norway, Russia join to map Barents Sea
Garbage drifting ashore in Svalbard becoming a major problem
Arctic seeing severe summer ice retreat
Tourism in northern Norway may benefit from upcoming night sky shows
Norway criticizes U.N. chief before visit to Svalbard
E.U. gives 30 million kroner to health research in the north
Temperature data loggers deployed in Arctic glacial river basin
Roving the AMASEing Arctic
Methane gas seeps from seabed outside Svalbard
New science center in Svalbard unveiled
Cod fishing season ends on a sour note
New book examines effect of politics on Norway's oil policy, possible Svalbard impact
3,000 views of the street (and more) in Ny-Ålesund
Cod fishers in Svalbard worried about low prices
Celebrating a 100-year-aviation milestone with another risky flight
Scientists exchange white coats for skin diving
Warmer waters a danger for salmon
Cleanup on Telemark Coast seen as vital to birds of Svalbard
When photography becomes an extreme adventure
Five minutes in the Arctic Ocean
ATP findings: Svalbard Arctic 3-5ºC warmer since 1990, 9ºC warmer by end of century
Trying to keep an eye on the north from the air
Remaining fuel drained from wrecked Russian ship on Bear Island
Seed vault inspires contemporary exhibition in Australia
Exchange student in Svalbard cites international diversity as a highlight
Expelled Libyan, who took refuge in Svalbard for years, arrested after flying to Tromsø
Further and further north in a 'pretty poor nutrition ocean'
Seed vault builder to construct sewage tunnel system in Hong Kong
Column: Attempts at 'superior' genes show similarities of seed vault, Nazis
Activists, saying Svalbard 'inadvertently destroyed' by visitors, push polar ecotourism
Footage captures polar bear having a whale of a time
Seeking ways to make the Arctic safer
Spanish scientists helping NASA test Mars equipment in Svalbard
PCB sampling project completed in Ny-Ålesund
Climate change and the scary jellyfish scourge
'Awesome photos:' Predators slideshow features Svalbard
Search for Amundsen's plane 'doubtful' to succeed, despite state-of-the-art sub
A close encounter of the polar bear kind
Aboard a Svalbard luxury cruise ship: 'A Titanic moment,' but no lifeboats
Welcome to Svalbard, here's your bird-defense stick
After 80 years on the seabed, a search for Amundsen
History of Nissan's new electronic car extends to test vehicle in Ny-Ålesund
Editorial: Farmers neglected in plans for biodiversity, seed vault
U.N. Secretary General to visit Svalbard, ship near North Pole
Change of pace: Hippie telemarkers ski Arctic Circle
Up to 80 percent of world's wheat may be threatened: Can the seed vault help?
Charting Svalbard's climate during the past 100 years
Immature mackerel showing up in Nordic seas
Icebreaker expedition seeks to determine Arctic borders
Oops - new Goliat rig not built for Arctic conditions
How stable are Spitsbergen's glaciers when warming occurs?
First year-round samples for marine ecology study collected at UNIS
Around the North Pole in one summer
Nathorst glacier 'on the run'
Tracking the Svalbard Ryper by fitting them with backpacks
Tracking a mass invasion of warm water into the Norwegian Arctic seas
A voyage to the eternal ice
Airborne expedition chases Arctic sea ice questions
Russian science center to open on Spitsbergen
Column: Some 'mighty big closets' for storing seeds
Arctic Tipping Points project sprints to finish at UNIS
The blessings and curses of 'polar illness'
Norwegian sailor says ice spotted during Arctic voyage not particularly thick
Whaling season in Norwegian Arctic going poorly
Arctic energy policy debate likely to sharpen among Norwegian politicians
Polish commencement: Research in Arctic exciting and challenging
Winning contests is online video guy's job, hence a trip to Svalbard
Apocalyptic solar storm in 2012 could necessitate use of seed vault, some say
The secret life of rypenes in Svalbard
Barbecuing in the Arctic
Remembering 'Nautilus 90 North'
Coal mining in Svalbard: How did it get here?
Technicians, sometimes invisible, essential to science, Svalbard project coordinator says
Portuguese researchers studying effect of temperature on Arctic microorganisms
24 scientists to gather 1,000 animal samples on Svalbard for toxin study
Looking for remains of Amundsen's last journey
NASA, Colo. U. researchers exploring sea from Ny-Ålesund
Seed banks 'not all equal but...a necessary investment'
Sea ice observation project seeks to save lives, reduce pollution accidents
Seed vault called a backup for global agriculture at Oxford conference
Collection of cold bacteria in remote sub-zero parts of Svalbard 'beyond all our expectations'
Being a polar bear guard a dream job in Svalbard
New findings about lives of early Arctic dwellers
Svalbard diary: The story of Jey, a cook from Sri Lanka
Give kebob man Kazem a visa, Iranian columnist argues
Serbian: 'Svalbard has always been nobody country'
Counting birds and studying plankton at sea
Diary: a UK student's 10 weeks of camping and conducting experiments in the cold
Rare bird nest discovery is first for Svalbard since 1905
Researcher: Warm July in Svalbard pleasant, but frightening
Mining mechanic commutes to the 'polar bear's barren kingdom'
NASA expedition in Ny-Ålesund chases Arctic sea ice questions
Spanish satellite with link to Svalbard to help farmers
'Longyearbyen looks like it does in photos, only with more tourists'
Polar climate satellite reaches major milestone
20 'tears' of seawater: 100 million viruses
Tourism both a bane and bonanza for Arctic researchers
A journalist's 15-day diary at the top of the world
Pop musician Christopher Deylen sounds off on science aboard the Polarstern
Sounding off about a concert from Pyramiden
Researchers sweating at 78 degrees north
A Korean scientist's journey to the North Pole
Only thing lacking at Sirkus was sawdust
Sirkus Svalnardo gets 'bad place on stage,' but 'impressive' at Trænafestival
Photographer's exhibit from Svalbard goes on display in Tynset
Young U.K. students adopt Svalbard polar bear family for project
Hurtigruta jumps the gun in promoting Svalbard as a World Heritage Site
New fisheries regulations proposed to protect seabeds around Svalbard
Russians inefficiently using funds in Svalbard, watchdog officials say
China ramps up research efforts in polar regions
Cod and haddock plentiful in Svalbard waters
Slumber tips for a bag in the Arctic: Sleep naked
Setting out on a two-month sailing trip around Svalbard
Arctic on a tilting point, or already over?
Interview: James Rollins, author of seed vault-bashing The Doomsday Key
Forty years of research service
Pollution accelerating snow melt in Svalbard, researchers find
Sea ice at lowest level in 800 years
Eight Arctic chefs to compete for title in September
2009 new car sales plummet in Norway, but six sold in Svalbard deemed 'not bad'
Seed preservation called critical to preserving sustainable agriculture
Searching for life on icy worlds
Q&A: Crew of Jan Mayan
Jan Mayan concludes voyage in Longyearbyen
Researchers want to shoot more geese, including those migrating to Svalbard
Barents Sea and the polar bears - again
Iceberg race at top of the world to end in Svalbard
New technology measuring ocean acidification passes Baltic Sea test, to be used in Svalbard in 2010
Robots for the cosmos get test in Svalbard
Traces of microbes in shallow ice layers may help find life on icy worlds
Looking for the climate 130,000 years ago
Portuguese studying effects of increased temperature in Arctic
Jan Mayan researcher not seeing big changes in Svalbard recently
Seed vault's humanitarian value highlighted by Pope
Canadians on Jan Mayan studying effect of temperature change on microorganisms
Movie: 'Kings Bay' to focus on 1962 Svalbard mining disaster
Veterans' club in Ny-Ålesund
Snowmobiles cause severe pollution on Svalbard, study finds
Journey to Magdalene Fjord
Svalbard plays battleground role in thriller novel The Doomsday Key
Insurance executives go to extremes to learn about climate change risks
Jan Mayen reaches Ny Ålesund
Svalbard: A community in the north that is not dying
Polish station: 1,452 km from N. Pole, 16,252 km from Antarctica
Scientific meeting of the Hornsund
Studying climate change and ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean
Underground habitat in Svalbard the home of future generations?
Salvage company contracted to monitor wrecked ship on Bear Island
Spanish fleet, caught illegally fishing in Svalbard, to get aid money to reduce activity
Seed vault may be a part of global disaster, some worry
Svalbard sea monster had four times more bite than T-Rex
As nations fight for Pole, what's actually left of it?
Diary: Sea research at Bear Island (also: Island strategically placed)
Smaller whale harvest this year
Jan Mayan starts collecting northern ocean samples for analysis at UNIS
Svalbard: Where is the government's strategic overview?
Former Longyearbyen administrator adjusting as Dyrøy's chief councilor
Sea kayaking in Svalbard
Big carbon players jockey for advantage in Ny Ålesund
New ocean observation technology for Svalbard project tested successfully
'Studying with a shooting iron'
Memorial expedition through Svalbard gets off to rough start
Diary: An elegant marathon at the end of the world
EU scientists begin first Arctic Tipping Point research cruise to Svalbard
Science verses politics at the edge of the North Pole
Passports should be required for Svalbard, Progress Party argues
Weather delays balloon aiding in Mars surface study
Scientists seek easier access from reluctant nations for Svalbard seed vault deposits
Scientist visiting Svalbard kills polar bear during first field experience
Oil spill 'first aid kit' added to Coast Guard's Svalbard
Column: Coal mining gives Svalbard no right to criticize impact of others' projects
New Longyearbyen administrator prepares for long-awaited challenge
Balloon launched from Spitsbergen to help study surface of Mars
Coast Guard kept busy at Bear Island, Hopen
Russian/Swedish mission in Svalbard 110 years ago helped chart Earth
Exercise tests emergency response to ocean oil spills
Man looks to return to historic site where grandfather fought for life
Svalbard's prominent role in history of H1N1 virus
India coming to Svalbard for second climate change mission
Svalbard projects results in new cleaning protocol for missions to other planets
Global crop preservation program distributes first funds, faces future uncertainty
International climate summit meets June 8-10 in Ny Ålesund
Svalbard reindeer hunting applications due July 10
African research partner sending second deposit to Svalbard seed vault
Crop disease shows how seed vault prepares for the worst
Study: Relying on vault poses risk of GMO contamination
Financial worries accompany first grants to help boot plant gene conservation
Tracking 800 years of climate change and pollution
Oil industry showing strength in Svalbard, Northern Norway
Area near Bear Island to be mapped this summer as part of oil exploration project
'Ida' discoverer to hunt for fossils in Svalbard this summer
Examining Svalbard's medical emergency readiness
Svalbard governor brought to-be expelled ex-Taliban minister's family to Norway
Svalbard photography: Cold snaps means speed is the key
Former coal mine at forefront of Arctic climate research
Permafrost melt poses long-term threat
Oil company funds university coastal scanner for Svalbard, other northern areas
UN Secretary General to visit Svalbard Aug. 30-Sept. 2
Barnacle geese prepare for migration to Svalbard
Svalbard bird lecture, tour offered by authors of new book
Ski season not over in Svalbard, other areas of Norway (and other parts of the world)
Hotel at the end of the world: Ugly rooms, bad food, great Russian experience
Comment: North Pole is a Russian tourist trap
A hotter July in Svalbard? You can literally bet on it...
...Yet spring in Svalbard was unusually cold
Spaniards finish melting research in Antarctic, head for Svalbard
Ny-Ålesund study raises new worries about Arctic permafrost thaw
Svalbard ice seems to have moved on toward Canada, researcher says
Who benefits from the 'Noah's Ark' for crops?
The German take on Ny-Ålesund research and life
Scots' historic Spitsbergen adventure goes on display
French researchers feeling at home in Ny-Ålesund
Study reveals details of hazardous materials transported to Svalbard waters
Analysis: Why is Norwegian enforcement of sovereignty in Svalbard important?
Africa sending 5,000 seed samples to Svalbard vault
Spitsbergen one of National Geographic Traveler's "Tours Of A Lifetime" for 2009
Korea's first icebreaker destined for Antarctica, Ny Ålesund
Tourism a bane and bonanza for Ny Ålesund researchers
Norway, responing to governor's complaints, to boost Svalbard's staff
Columbia sending new deposits to seed bank
French researchers feeling at home in Svalbard
Martial arts classes a kick in Longyearbyen
Captain of grounded ship indicted for alcohol use; first mate for alcohol, falling asleep on watch
Fog prevents environmental officials from getting to shipwreck site
Seed vault at center of UN climate, food talks
Removal of grounded ship ordered due to oil spill hazard; captain, first mate face questioning
Permafrost databases for Svalbard and Norway now online
Longyearbyen culture site prepared for construction
Historic Cape Lee cabin to be restored
Grounded ship leaking diesel, crew being investigated
Al Jazeera: From the edge of the world
UK to strengthen research presence in Svalbard
12 rescued from Russian ship grounded on Bear Island, oil spill feared
Unknown thief steals 250,000 NOK from Kings Bay safe
Housing development plan for Haugenområdet proposed
Arctic shrimp may be threatened by climate change
Former coal mine aids Arctic climate research
Longyearbyen inspires new London theater production
Tourism a curse and windfall in Ny-Ålesund
Links to variations in ocean circulation, climate revealed in new study
Climate change a threat to Svalbard's biodiversity, report states
Adapting to life in the northernmost settlement in the world
History clashes with present at the edge of the Arctic
Researchers offered free access to Ny-Ålesund
Record jump-rope exercise campaign includes Svalbard
Governor's office: Swine flu risk drops, Longyearbyen ready if cases occur
Spitsbergen: A Norwegian island with a Russian flavor
Squash so popular that (gasp) Svalbard has a court
One of coldest Aprils in Svalbard is one of warmest on mainland Norway
Painter of Svalbard in finals for Wildlife Artist of The Year
Obama gets invitation to visit Svalbard before December climate summit
Volunteers sought for trash pickup on northern Spitsbergen
Svalbard's CO2 levels at record high
Italian foreign minister visiting Svalbard airship museum, research facilities
Svalbard officials monitoring global flu epidemic; no travel restrictions in effect
Tromsø pair not infected with swine flu, no cases yet in Norway
Polar bear conference findings translated, released
Cruises to Spitsbergen getting price reductions
Swine flu may have reached Arctic Norway
News exec: Longyearbyen miners sufferred harshest fate of 50 million Spanish flu victims in 1918-1919
Measuring climate change in Ny-Ålesund
Russia to open post office, expand telecommunications on Svalbard
WWII resistance survivor to speak at Radisson April 27
Satellite signaling Svalbard will capture the 'voice' of Earth
Coldest April so far in Longyearbyen since 1993
World support growing for seed vault
Disney's 'Earth' director: Svalbard is favorite spot
National Geographic feature: 'Ice Paradise'
Seed vault could soon see withdrawals
New Norway space agency office to focus on Svalbard
Is Svalbard the most remote location on Earth?
Svalbard faces overcrowding
Eva Dons brings musical poetry to Huset on April 22
The genial prophet of climate doom
Russia seeks to expand economic interests, influence on Svalbard
Norway wants Svalbard on UNESCO World Heritage List
First quadriplegic conquers the North Pole
Easter liturgy on Svalbard
From the print edition (archive)
Captain, first mate sentenced for roles in Bear Island shipwreck
The captain of a Russian ship that ran aground in a Svalbard bird sanctuary was sentenced last week to 18 days in prison and his first mate 40 days for drinking alcohol and other negligence on duty.
More ship accidents in store?
There's a bounty of riches awaiting in the melting waters of the Arctic, but native dwellers may pay the ultimate price as increased traffic means a greater risk of incidents like a Russian ship that ran aground and spilled oil in a Svalbard bird sanctuary earlier this month.
Sweets, salutes and song
Important as honoring soldiers and children on the national holiday may be, the highlight for some Norwegians this year was a young violinist's "Fairytale."
Mush a rush despite brush with slush
Sled dog racing started in Svalbard not with a bang or much ballyhoo, but plenty of barks.
Feeling a rush to mush
It seems this whole "world's northernmost" thing is really going to the dogs. Groans aside, Svalbard added another category to its lengthy list of such distinctions with the inaugural Trappers' Trail dog sled race Saturday.
Going on a late ski spree
As ski resorts elsewhere were closing down, Svalbard's snow bums were just getting off to the races and lifts.
Healer returns for a spring at the alter
Maybe it's just a temp gig in the pulpit, but Magne Klingsheim has a lifetime of genes - and jeans - befitting a spiritual healer in a rugged environment.
Svalbard Skimarathon on Saturday
An ode to blubber concrete
The 16th annual Svalbard Skimarathon, the world's northernmost cross-country ski race, is Saturday beginning at Mine 6.
When you're the world's northernmost rock band there's little use for wasting lyrics on "struggles" other acts find "substance" in like bad relationships and drug trips. Especially when your forefathers were boiling whale blubber in a settlement so miserable prisoners refused to spend a season working there instead of serving a life sentence.
• Web bonus: Download "Sysselmannen" MP3 from Schmeerenburgh's Longyear Brenner EP
• Videos, photos and strange tales from the road at Schmeerenburgh's homepage
Trash cleanup to bring lucky few to Spitsbergen's north shore
It's not hard to imagine the ecstasy of a garbage man winning the lottery. But how about winning the lottery to be a garbage man? For those living in Svalbard, that can also be a dream come true.
Postal error causes customs fees to be sought in Svalbard
Those receiving parcels by mail in Svalbard are erroneously being asked to pay customs fees before the packages are sent from the mainland due an error in new regulations implemented by Norway's postal service, officials said.
Slower, more strenuous tourism season forecast
The North Pole is melting and Svalbard ranks as a top-10 travel destination this year, but there's still going to be a rare decline in tourists this year and operators are working harder to please them.
Arctic tourism promotions go extreme
Feeling guilty you can afford an expensive vacation in a recession? Help save a endangered animal in the Arctic. Tired of feeling guilty? Shoot it.
Making changes to stay the same
Norway's government likes what Svalbard has become, but has serious concerns about where it may be going. Those conclusions are in a long-term policy outline for the archipelago released Friday. The 121-page "white paper" states coal mining should continue and will likely remain the region's dominant economic base for some time, but the growth of tourism, education and research are helping ensure long-term economic and social development.
• Download an English summary of the report
• View a computer translation of the full report (some grammar and wording may be incorrect)
Is the seed vault turning us all into ice zombies?
Thomas Zimmerman didn't have what it took to be a Nazi, but turning into an ice zombie overnight in Longyearbyen was no problem. So he joined others volunteering to act in "The Nighmare Of Noah," a film scheduled for completion this year questioning the role of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
High life, low crime
More than 2,500 people are listed as living in Svalbard for the first time in more than a decade, with those not registered as residents of Norway's mainland accounting for the increase. And if anyone got a traffic ticket, it was big news.
Sunny days in Svalbard again
The day, truth be told, wasn't all that different. The skies were overcast and Longyearbyen was already getting more than 12 hours a day of "twilight," exceeding the sunrise/sunset duration in New York City. Even during a mass gathering at the penultimate moment of the first dawn after a four-month polar night, a scattering of people said they didn't feel a magic transformation.
Airship museum takes flight
The first successful flight over the North Pole wasn't exactly a rousing PR success due to an aborted mission, squabbling over credit and a subsequent trips that resulted in deaths and disgrace. A new museum in Longyearbyen is trying to present what it calls the full version of an often overlooked and inaccurate story, along with the history of other Arctic airship expeditions.
• Museum web site
Review: Tur an improvisational showcase that demands focus
"I don’t find two sips of wine more delicious than one," a fictional assassin tells his nemesis, who's uncomfortable with his host's relative sobriety at a dinner where they sample many bottles. It's a mentality listeners of a new album by a collection of northern Norway musicians should adopt as its improvisational energy is expressed in a multitude of ways that's anything but comfortable.
Seeds of hope, concern after vault's first year
As birthday parties go, it's something of a downer when the conversation is about getting people to worry about a food crisis a century from now when paying for groceries today is a struggle.
• A seedy birthday party in Svalbard
• Really, really against the seed vault
What IS this thing?
You're holding – probably at arm's length – the premier issue of the world's northernmost alternative newspaper. It's certifiable as a collector's item, worthy of space next to the George W. Bush action figure and David Beckham L.A. Galaxy jersey on the shelf.
Lots of people have blogs, personal sites and forums about Svalbard, the polar regions and other chilly matters. Their rants and ruminations will be noted and commented on our companion blog at http://coolestnewsonearth.blogspot.com/. The blog also serves as a dumping ground for the internal workings happening (or not) at icepeople, plus whatever other verbiage is deemed unworthy of actual ink.
Seeds inside vault are hotter than they should be
Operational problems are making the temperature inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault hotter than it should be, according to a note from Barlindhaug Consult. The vault, which has experienced numerous technical problems since opening in February 2008, has failed to reach the intended storage temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius due to incorrect coolant settings. There are also problems with water flowing into the vault's outer tunnel because permafrost disrupted by construction has not refrozen yet. Officials say both problems do not present a danger to the seeds. Nordgen Director Jessica Kathle said minus 18 degrees is an international standard many gene banks are using, but is not an absolute necessity for preservation. "The last report I received showed minus 16.5 degrees and we are satisfied with that," she said. A permanent pump station is being installed to deal with the water, which is not reaching the vault itself, according to Magnus Bredeli Tveiten, project manager for Statsbygg, which operates the vault.
Whale transmitter begins working after 27 days at sea
A satellite transmitter that initially failed to work when attached to a bowhead whale has started sending signals after 27 days, allowing scientists with the Norwegian Polar Institute to track the rare animal. Christian Lydersen, a marine biologist with the institute, said he believes the lower part of the transmitter was obstructed in the whale's blubber before working its way free April 30. He said they will track the animal as long as possible and it has not traveled far since being tagged, Scientists estimate there are between 10 and 100 bowhead whales of the Spitsbergen stock.
Fiber optic cable for Ny-Ålesund OK'd
An extension of Longyearbyen's fiber-optic cable to Ny-Ålesund is scheduled to begin later this year after the Norwegian government approved 60 million kroner for the project. The 260-kilometer undersea cable extension will allow significantly faster communication transmissions at the scientific research base, where activities include NASA monitoring of even slight variations in the Earth's crust. The cable will also improve reliability of communications, a problem for several days last December when a repeater station between Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund lost power.
Tour company hopes to set up tent camp near Mine 3
Tundra Events is hoping to place a large Sami-style camping tent outside Mine 3, but will need permission from Store Norkse to do so. The tour company is asking Longyearbyen officials to approve three tent sites for this summer, with the other locations being near Mine 7 and where the fiber optic cable disappears into a fjord near Svalbard Airport. Dag Ivar Brekke, vice administrative director of Store Norske, said there is a 50-meter safety zone for abandoned mines and open fires are not permitted. Tundra Events Arne O. Bergdal calls the site attractive and notes a mining museum is planned there, "but if it becomes difficult we will look at the other two options."
Store Norske hopes to keep Mine 7 open at least 20 years
Store Norske is working on plans to ensure operation of Mine 7 for at least 20 more years, which it plans to present to its board this fall. The mine has experienced a few ups and many downs since starting operations 35 years ago, and in February the board mandated profitability had to improve or closure was possible. The board also decided no money would be spent on new equipment, but relented last month and approved 13 million kroner for purchases. Mapping of potential production ares for the next two decades is underway and "it is not certain that is it realistic to get out everything, but it gives us an idea of how much coal is left in the mountains," said Leiv Sanden, the mine's manager.
Businesses may pay more for trash disposal next year
An increase in the amount businesses are required to pay for garbage disposal starting next year is being sought by the head of Longyearbyen's waste operations. Private residents pay 3,000 kroner annually to dispose of waste in bins, a higher per-kilo rate than businesses, said Brynjulv Øverby, who will ask the municipal board to approve the increase in December. He also sent out letters to 70 companies in the city two weeks ago about improving sorting and delivery procedures.
Delay of food grinders leads to extension of deadline
The deadline for installing food grinders in all Longyearbyen residents has been extended since they are now scheduled to arrive May 31 instead of the original date of May 3. Officials had approved a July 1 deadline for installation of the devices, but the new target date is "not absolute," said Brynjulv Øverby, head of Bydrift. He said summer holidays can affect when many people are at home, which is more of a problem for individual residences than apartments and similar complexes. Compliance inspections by the Svalbard governor's office are likely to take place in the fall.
May Day celebration called off for first time in 85 years
The traditional May Day memorial ceremony was bypassed in Longyearbyen for the first time in 85 years due to the reorganization of a trade union responsible for the event. Provisional representatives are scheduled to elect board members to Longyearbyen Arbeiderforenings this fall, and the realization there was no planning for the May 1 event was a bit sudden, said Ottar Svensen, the interim leader. Traditional events include a procession through town and speeches at the Skjæringa memorial. A memorial ceremony did take place in the evening at Svalbard Church.
Norwegian, U.S. database to track bear/human incidents
A database of incidents between bears and humans is being assembled by researchers from Norway and the United States due an expected rise in future conflicts. More people are making their way north, more commercial activities are occurring in bears' habitat, and there are more bears on land as sea ice decreases in size and thickness, according to participants at a polar bear conference in Tromsø last year. A decision was made at the conference to prepare the database, with researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Norwegian Polar Institute and Svalbard governor's office among those named earlier this month to work on the project. Among the goals are reducing human/bear encounters and improving people's response if one occurs.
Ancient mammal tracks from Mine 7 get Svalbard name
The 60-million-year-old Pantodonta mammal tracks discovered in Mine 7 now have a name: Thulitheripus Svalbardii. "There are no such footsteps described in any country. Therefore they get their own name," said Jørn Hurum, a paleontologist who co-authored a study about the December 2006 discovery by two workers in the mine. Fossils from the Thulitheri, meaning "large animals from the North," are on display at Svalbard Museum.
Miner hoping to solve the mystery of John Willis
What happened on the northeast side of Rindersbukta and who was John Willis? Stein Arne Ellingsen hopes to find the answers. Ellingsen, who owns a nearby cabin just south of Svea, is trying to discover the story behind a pole with a brass plate bearing the English words "To the Memory of John Willis B.D.S. 13-3-61 – 29-7-85 A Good Friend and Companion." Ellingsen, a machine mechanic for Store Norske, said he doesn't know if Willis died in 1885 or 1985. The "B.D.S." has a current-day meaning for a degree in dentistry, but Ellingsen said he questions if the mystery man could have obtained one by the age of 24.
Spitsbergen Rock to return with new dates and location
The Spitsbergen Rock festival will return for a second year, but with a new location and date, according to organizers. The inaugural festival was several kilometers from Longyearbyen at Endalen, where there was no mobile phone coverage and transporting people proved cumbersome. The tent for this year's event will be at the sailing club facility next to the shore, with additional concerts at Kroa and Svalbar. The event is also being moved from mid-June to the final weekend of May, allowing students from The University Centre In Svalbard to attend while the semester is still in session. Eight bands are scheduled so far to perform at the festival.
Store Norske starts gold drilling on St. Jonsfjorden
Store Norske has started drilling for gold in Svalbard after tests during the past two years indicate there is a high content of the precious metal on south side of St. Jonsfjorden. The rig is on the edge of Holmesletfjella, a few meters away from the steep mountainside. Drillers completed a fourth hole, about 500 meters deep, after three weeks and are now preparing to move the rig about 40 meters away from the precipice. Jørgen Stenvold, executive director of the company's gold operation, said they plan to drill a total of 4,000 meters by the end of June, with excavation planned "for many years" over a seven-kilometer area. "Exactly how much gold exists in the area so far is impossible to say," he said.
Motorist must go to court after rejecting speeding fine
A Longyearbyen man accused of driving 71 km/h on a side street with a 30 km/h limit must stand trial instead of simply paying a fine, according to the Svalbard governor's office. An official spotted and followed the man in his 20s on March 14, seizing the driver's license after stopping him. The governor's office offered him a fine of 8,000 kroner for a violation of driving 60 km/h, but the man refused, requiring the governor's office to prosecute the matter based on the speed clocked, said Lt. Gov. Lars Fause. The hearing is set for June 17 in Nord-Troms district court.
Parking no longer free at Svalbard Airport
Motorists must now pay to park at Svalbard Airport for more than 23 hours, due to capacity problems caused by vehicles being left there for months. Fees, which took effect Monday, are 50 kroner for one day, 250 kroner for one week and 150 kroner for each additional week. Payment is calculated by tickets obtained from a meter machine – with a "free ticket" available for those at the airport less than a day – and motorists without one risk fines or towing, said Airport Director Ole M. Rambech. He said some cars are being left for months until someone picks them up to drive for the summer, and hopes revenue from tickets can be used to expand the parking lot.
Owner must get rid of kennels due to neglect of dogs
The owner of Svalbard Huskies must abandon the business by Aug. 1 due to numerous safety and care violations discovered earlier this year, according to a Norwegian Food Safety Authority ruling. Some of the 45 dogs at the kennels at Mine 6, operated by Niklas Gerhardsson, were mutilated and malnourished after four animals came loose from a chain and began fighting. A woman who saw and photographed the blood-covered animals on New Year's Eve contacted authorities, and investigators said previous efforts to offer guidance to Gerhardsson to improve the kennel's conditions were unsuccessful. Gerhardsson – who had another person care for the dogs while he was away during the holidays – said there are errors in the report, but does not know yet if he will appeal the ruling.
Tourists evacuated from camp stalked by bear
Ten French tourists being harassed by a polar bear at Inglefieldbukta on the east side of Spitsbergen were relocated Sunday by a helicopter sent by the Svalbard governor's office. The bear roamed the area for hours, ransacking supplies in the campers' sledges, and efforts to scare it away with rifle shots and signal flares were unsuccessful.
No 98 octane gasoline at Svalbard Auto until June
Svalbard Auto is out of 98 octane gasoline until at least June as more snowscooters than expected are being filled with the premium fuel, said Frank Jakobsen, project director for LNS Spitsbergen. "On some new scooters it is recommended that 98 octane gasoline be used," he said, although he said he believes many drivers are using the pricer fuel even when it isn't required. Snowscooter dealers said many 98 octane machines and cars should run acceptably with 95 octane fuel, perhaps with reduced performance, but dealers should be contacted to be sure. Jakobsen said sea ice needs to be clear for the tanker ship and the gas station has to wait until its tanks are empty enough to require a full shipment, since a half shipment is too expensive. LNSS' tanks have capacity for 4,100 cubic meters of diesel, 1,000 cubic meters of 95 octane gas and 200 cubic meters of 98 octane gas.
Svalbardbutikken workers upset, fearful of management
Employees at Svalbardbutikken are expressing frustration about inadequate information and poor cooperation from management. New leaders were elected to represent the employees at a reginal meeting last month, where suggestions for resolving tensions were also discussed. The representatives and corporate officials in Tromsø agree problems should be discussed at the local level, although some employees have said they are reluctant to express dissatisfaction due to fears of management retribution. Morten Helliksen, the store's administrative director, said "I cannot understand the basis" for the reluctance to discuss matters with him or other management.
Few problems during heavily traveled Easter weekend
A woman had to be evacuated last Friday after injuring herself on a snowscooter in Sassendalen, but generally the highly traveled Easter weekend was free of serious incidents, according to the Svalbard governor's office.
New alcohol policy allows all places to serve at 11 a.m.
Cafes and restaurants in Longyearbyen will be able to serve alcohol on equal terms starting at 11 a.m. beginning June 1 under a new policy approved by the municipal board. Current policy allows sales beginning at 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends, except for locations outside the town's center "ring" – Kroa and the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel – will can sell wine and beer at the soon-to-be-universal times of 11 a.m. and liquor at 1 p.m. "It's fantastic. It means a lot to us," said Patrik Jonsson, manager of Svalbar. "We send a lot of people away because they are not allowed to have a drink with their meal."
Harsh winter puts severe
limit on researchers' reindeer
Only 19 reindeer will be caught this year by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research due to a harsh winter, 10 percent of the total they applied for. The Svalbard governor's office set the quota of six calves and 13 females due to poor conditions, but is still open to allowing labeling and treatment of additional animals once the condition of the first 19 are trapped. "If the animals appear to be in good shape it is important that we have a solution," said Audun Stien, an institute researcher. "It is expensive to let the scientists drive and move for several days."
UNIS employees upset with new, pricier housing policy
A new housing policy charging different rents is resulting in complaints by employees at The University Centre In Svalbard. Current employees will continue paying 20 kroner per square meter, while employees hired in the future must pay 65 kroner, and doctoral and post-doctoral candidates must pay 150 kroner for family apartments. Monica Votvik, an employees' representative, said workers feel the decision was made without informing them. UNIS Director Gunnar Sand said employees have been informed about changes and the university must absorb a 12 million kroner budget cut, or about 10 percent.
'Kebob man' arrested in Tromsø for immigration violations
Kazem Ariaiwand, an Iranian known for his red kebob wagon, was arrested March 8 in Tromsø for violating immigration law, according to officials. He came to Longyearbyen in 2003 after failing to receive asylum on the mainland, and has traveled between Longyearbyen and Switzerland the past two years. He was reportedly traveling to Svalbard to settle practical matters before settling into his new home. He is in jail awaiting an expulsion order to Iran or Switzerland.
Woman hospitalized in Barentsburg after snowmobile accident
A woman in her 50s was brought to the hospital in Barentsburg after a snowmobile accident during a March 6 trip with a group to Longyearbyen. She sustained a broken rib and possible spinal injuries. A helicopter rescue was not possible due to high winds and snow. She is scheduled to be transported to Longyearbyen when conditions improve.
Less space available on cruise ships this year
Fewer berths will be offered on Svalbard expedition cruises this year due to a reduction in ships and smaller vessels replacing older ones, said Frigg Jørgensen, secretary-general for Aeco, the area's industry group. Quark Expeditions will replace two ships and not deploy a third, the new Fram will replace the Nordstjernen for Gap Adventures, and Polar Quest will send only two ships because a third no longer meets Norway's certification requirements.
Mine 7 again facing closure after poor 2009
Mine 7, which has operated for years at a loss, may shut down if performance does not improve, said Bjørn Arnestad, administrative director for Store Norske. The mine has repeatedly been threatened with closure since it opened in 1975 and Arnestad said it was the first question he received when becoming head of the company two years ago. But said the mine's deficit in 2009 was not large in relation to the company's overall earnings, and it is considered important to executives and board members. Annual production in the mine is about 75,000 tons of coal, one-third of which is used for Longyearbyen's power plant and the rest sold to Germany. The mine, with about 20 employees, has about five years' of production remaining at the current pace.
Industry says pollution study flawed, demands new one
A report showing a sharp rise in Svalbard's greenhouse gases is erroneous, should be withdrawn and a new study undertaken, according to mining, tourism and other industry officials. Soot and nitrogen oxides increased more than 50 between 2000 and 2007, and even steeper increases are predicted by 2025 without action, according to the report by Norwegian pollution researchers and The University Centre in Svalbard. A letter by Bydrift, Store Norske, Aeco and Pole Position states calculations in the report are incorrect, such as estimating cruise ships used 20,208 tons of fuel in 2007 when industry officials put the total at 7,764 tons. A Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency official said they are still evaluating the five-page letter and potential response.
Man who flipped stolen car onto roof jailed
A 25-year-old Oslo man who stole a van from Huset in November and ended up flipping it onto the roof of the Spitsbergen Airship Museum has been sentenced to 30 days of conditional imprisonment, 95,000 kroner in fines and restitution, and the loss of his driver's license for 15 months. The man, who also stole 48 cans of beer from Huset, lost control of the van on a snow-covered road above the museum was also convicted on alcohol-consumption charges.
Store Norske reports 400m kroner surplus for 'difficult' 2009
Store Norke had a 400 million kroner before-tax surplus in 2009, its second-best total ever despite "a very difficult year" marked by falling coal prices and plans to significantly downsize its workforce, according to company officials. Coal dropped to $50 a ton in 2009 from a peak of $175 in 2008, but Store Norske's earnings remained strong because of contracts negotiated when prices were higher. "First and foremost, we managed to negotiate new contracts with the steel industry with prices at 2008 level," said Bjørn Arnestad, the company's administrative director. "Average coal prices for the market for 2009 were at $75 a ton. We have achieved $30 more than this." Production was 2.6 million tons, compared to 4 million in 2007.
Foreign students can attend mainland schools this fall
Foreign students at Longyearbyen School without a Norwegian residency permit will be able to attend a mainland secondary school this fall, according to Astri Aas-Hansen, a Ministry of Justice state secretary. In a Feb. 10 presentation to students in Longyearbyen, she said a new regulation allows youths to attend schools in the Troms region where a larger range of courses are offered. A reduced number of courses available in Svalbard due to limited funds and staffing has long been a sore point with educators, parents and students.
Search for snowmobiles reported missing comes up empty
Two snowmobiles disappeared in the sea ice at Van Mijenfjorden at about midnight Sunday, according to two people in a cottage who contacted the Svalbard governor's office, but rescue officials said they were unable to find any evidence of an accident. The observers "are quite sure it was snowscooters they saw and the lights disappeared," said Trond Aagesen, the governor's deputy police chief. Rescuers conducted a midday helicopter search for several hours and, while ice conditions were poor, nothing unusual was seen.
Svalbard Treaty, signed 90 years ago, has 'never been so practical'
The Svalbard Treaty, signed Feb. 9, 1920, in France, has grown stronger and more relevant over the years, experts said this week. "The treaty has never been so practical as it is now," said Geir Ulfstein, professor of public law at the University of Oslo, adding it's a crucial guide for potential fishery, oil and gas activity. Limiting activities on Svalbard has helped keep things smooth, said Arild Moe, assistant director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo. There are a number of current-day disputes about off-shore activities, as well as land-based ones such as Russian helicopter usage and future coal mining, but Ulfstein said he isn't concerned about the treaty being challenged in coming years.
Airport worker suffers possible fractured skull in snowmobile accident
A man injured in a snowmobile accident at Svalbard Airport at about 5 p.m. Feb. 9 was airlifted to Tromsø with a possible skull fracture, officials said. The man, a Longyearbyen resident in his 30s, is not considered to be in critical condition. The accident apparently occurred when airport employees were trying to use snowmobiles to trap a reindeer that strayed inside the airport's fence.
Polish woman has wallet, passport stolen shortly before trip home
A Polish woman who left her wallet and passport in camera bag in a hall on Road 232 the night of Feb. 5 discovered them missing the following morning. Anna Baczewska, a former Longyearbyen resident who was visting friends, said she doesn't expect the camera back, but is asking her documents be returned to the residence at Road 232-18 or the governor's office. She plans to depart Feb. 9 and will have to work through the governor and Polish embassy otherwise.
Reindeer with broken foot killed by officials
A reindeer discovered at Sverdrupbyen that broke its foot was killed by the Svalbard governor's office after officials determined there was no alternative solution. Deputy Gov. Lars Fause spotted the animal at about noon Feb. 6 and a report of what is believed to be the same animal was received by officials the previous night.
12 local youths selected for regional UKM competition
Twelve Longyearbyen students were selected to participate in Troms regional UKM 2010 competition in April after a large percentage of the town's youths performed in the local exhibition Jan. 30. The local show at Huset included 14 songs, two dances and three visual art displays, with five of the performances selected for the Troms competition. Among the most active participants were Simen Henriksen, 17, and Inger-Johanne Mørk, 15, who each participanted in three songs and have competed in UKM for the past four years. Last year more than 20,000 youths participated in UKM performances nationwide.
Helicopter may be best air ambulance solution
One of two government helicopters stationed in Svalbard may be the best solution for the area's lack of air ambulance services, according to a preliminary report by Helse Nord (Health North). The governor's Super Puma helicopter can fly from Longyearbyen to Hammerfest in about 5.5 hours, compared to six or seven hours for an ambulance plane to reach Tromsø. But new European Union rules have placed limits on the number of hours air ambulance crews can fly, making it impossible to transport patients from Svalbard at times. Svalbard Gov. Odd Olsen Ingerø said he is concerned using his office's helicopter will reduce readiness for rescues and similar emergencies. "We have always been aware that it is possible to use our helicopter for such missions, but it's something we want to avoid," he said. Longyearbyen Hospital Manager Søren Nissen said helicopter transport would also require an anesthesia nurse, plus the flight crew "and we will be without the Super Puma helicopter for a long time."
Weather halts flights, work at Svea coal mine
Production at the Svea coal mine was on hold for several days because flights carrying workers from Longyearbyen have not been possible since Jan, 23, according to officials. Miners at the site Monday could not continue working due to their employment contracts. "Some have waited three days to get home and it's terribly boring," said Per Nilssen, the mine's manager, on Jan. 28. He said he doesn't know how much Store Norske has lost because of the delay, but it is not a dramatic amount of money.
Avalanche danger high, governor's office says
A warning of extreme avalanche danger was issued Jan. 28 by the Svalbard governor's office following an examination of conditions by an expert with the Longyearbyen Red Cross. Many large snow drifts from winter storms have disappeared, but a number remain, according to Jørgen Haagensli, the Red Cross leader..
Kennel likely to face penalties for mistreating dogs
Svalbard Huskies will face unspecified consequences for mistreating dogs, according to Norwegian animal welfare officials investigating a complaint by a woman who photographed blood-covered canines at the kennel New Year's Eve. Options include fines or revoking the kennel's right to keep animals, said Harald Os, a veterinarian with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. "They must be adjusted according to severity," he said. "The main thing is that the animals should not suffer." Some of the 45 dogs at the kennel came loose during the holiday season and were fighting, according to the woman who made the complaint. She said the dogs also weren't properly given food or water. Os, following an inspection in early January, said conditions had improved significantly due to volunteer efforts.
Barentsburg must reduce coal-plant emissions
Emissions from the coal-fired power plant in Barentsburg must be reduced, according to Norway's climate and pollution control directorate. The agency has sent Trust Arktikugol a notice stating carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants must be significantly reduced by Jan. 1, 2011. "What we have proposed for Barentsburg is the first step of the permit that the power plant in Longyearbyen has been given," said Harald Sørby, the agency's director. He said clearing the first 80 percent of emissions costs less, which is what Barentsburg is being asked to address. Comments on the proposed permit are being accepted until April 1.
Earthquake rattles Storfjorden; no damage reported
A magnitude 4.5 to 5 earthquake struck at 11:08 a.m. Jan. 13 at Storfjorden, between Spitsbergen and Edgeøya. The exact location of the quake was not immediately known and there were no reports from anyone feeling its impact. "If anyone would have known something, it must have been the crew at the Polish research station in Nornsund," said Tormod Kværna, a seismologist. Several earthquakes have occurred in the area over the years, including a record magnitude 5.9 shaker on Feb. 21, 2008. More information about the most recent quake is available at jordskjelv.no..
Crown prince to take part in Ny-Ålesund climate gathering
Crown Prince Haakon will attend a June 21-23 environmental symposium in Ny-Ålesund in June, along with Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. Knut Ore, chairman of Kings Bay AS, said Haakon's participation should raise the profile of the international gathering, the fifth in an annual series, with this year's theme being "the changing Arctic and its global implications." Ore said a "fresh approach" is being sought following a less-than-successful December climate summit in Copenhagen.
Alleged dog mistreatment by Svalbard Huskies under investigation
An Investigation into conditions at Svalbard Huskies' kennels in Todalen has been launched after the Svalbard governor's office received a New Year's Eve call from a person expressing concern. A woman at the kennels by accident said the dogs hadn't been given proper food or water, and blood was everywhere from loose dogs that had been fighting. She took photos and sent them to officials, and veteran ian from Tromsø arrived Jan. 6 for an inspection. Svalbard Huskies was prosecuted in December of 2006 for three incidents of loose dogs and ordered to build higher fences. Company owner Niklas Gerhardson is working in Antarctica and Tommy Siikavuopio, in charge of the dogs during the holiday, declined to comment on the allegations. "I would feed them once a day, and that's it. I have nothing more to say, it will be between Niklas and me," Siikavuopio said.
Earthquake rattles Storfjorden, no damage reported
A magnitude 4.5 to 5 earthquake struck at 11:08 a.m. Jan. 13 at Storfjorden, between Spitsbergen and Edgeøya. The exact location of the quake was not immediately known and there were no reports from anyone feeling its impact. "If anyone would have known something, it must have been the crew at the Polish research station in Hornsund," said Tormod Kværna, a seismologist. Several earthquakes have occurred in the area over the years, including a record magnitude 5.9 shaker on Feb. 21, 2008. More information about the most recent quake is available at jordskjelv.no.
Man, 20, taken to Tromsø after snowmobile accident
A 20-year-old man injured in a snowmobile accident in the center of Longyearbyen was transported to Tromsø,. but apparently is not seriously injured. The incident occurred at about 9 p.m. Jan. 9 while he was driving on Hilmar Rekstens street, with passer-bys stopping to help him. The man, a Longyearbyen resident, is not suspected of drunk driving, according to police.
Expansion at Ny-Ålesund sought by many countries
Several countries are planning to build and expand research facilities in Ny-Ålesund as a 60 percent increase in research days during the past two years is resulting in a need for more space. German and French scientists are hoping to build a new research station. Japanese researchers want to replace the building they rent at the airport. South Korean researchers want to expand into space used by the French when they relocate. Indian scientists hope to relocate as well and Russians hope to establish their own base. The increased activity has less to a shortage of beds during the summer, but the Norwegian Polar Institute said it would prefer better coordination than expansion. An environmental analysis is planned to determine what impact expansion would have on the area.
New char regulations shorten season, change quotas and rules for nets
New char regulations for 2010 expand maximum net length to 28 meters instead of 25 and make the season from Jan. 1 to Oct. 15 instead of ending Dec. 31. Also, only two nets can be used simultaneously. Lakes Vårfluesjøen and Einsteinvatnet are reserved for hunting stations Mushamna and Austfjordnes, if seconded by the governor. The quota for Linnévatnet has been increased to 100 fish instead of 40, with half reserved for rod fishing and half for nets.
Indoor fireworks light up otherwise calm New Year
Firefighters responded to a building on Road 222 after fireworks set off indoors triggered the alarm. No injuries or serious damage were reported, and it is not known who is responsible. No other significant incidents were reported by officials during New Year's Eve celebrations around Longyearbyen.
Fireworks light up quick sales by the thousands
Thousands of fireworks were sold at Svalbardbutikken within the first hours of being available, according to Store Manager Karin Mella. The sale began at 4 p.m. Tuesday and as of Wednesday morning "we have already sold a tremendous amount." People have gathered at Skjæringa during previous years for a communal launch, but one is not scheduled this year. But Mella said she expects a lot of activity around Longyearbyen, including people gathering for group launches. Officials recommend fireworks be launched at least 25 meters from buildings.
Man found dead in Barentsburg; foul play not suspected
A 57-year-old Russian man was found dead Monday night in Barentsburg. The Svalbard governor's office sent a physician and inspector upon notification of the death, but the cause is not believed to be suspicious.
Internet, phone services restored to Ny-Ålesund
Telephone, internet and television services were restored to Ny-Ålesund on Sunday night after a nine-day outage due to the failure of a relay station at Kongsvegpasset. A power unit failed and the backup battery quickly depleted Dec. 18 at the station on a mountain between Ny-Ålesund and Longyearbyen, and poor weather prevented helicopter from bring in a repair crew. Kjell Arild Bakke, an operations engineer for Telenor Svalbard, said the weather finally improved sufficiently at about 10 p.m. Sunday and workers arrived within an hour to make repairs. Bakke said considerable work still needs to be done at the station, including thawing equipment after more than a week without power. Kings Bays Director Roger Jakobsen said the restoration brought great joy to the 40 people at Ny-Ålesund since "it has been uncomfortable to be isolated in this way, not least because this happened at a time when the need for contact with family and friends is extra large."
Generator fire causes Christmas Eve blackout in Ny-Ålesund
An overloaded generator caught fire and triggered a Christmas Eve power outage in Ny-Ålesund, which an official said was "extremely unpleasant" but not as serious as it could have become. The outage occurred at about 8:30 a.m. when a second generator failed to automatically respond to the overloaded generator. The situation was further complicated because the research station has been without telephone or internet service since Dec. 18, so "it could have evolved much worse had it not been for the people at the power station knowing what they are doing," said Kings Bay Director Roger Jakobsen. Workers were able to start the second of three generators at the station, two of which are typically in operation while the third is held in reserve.
Ny-Ålesund loses internet, phones during holiday season
Ny-Ålesund has been without telephone and internet connections since Dec. 18 due the failure of a unit providing power to Telenor's station on Kongsvegpasset. The unit's battery is also depleted. Poor weather has made flying a helicopter to the station impossible, leaving a satellite phone as the only means of communication with the outside world. Officials said there is no danger to residents' life or health, but is problematic for scientists unable to send data and people trying to contact family members for the holidays.
New ice rink near school proving popular
A new outdoor ice rink next to Longyearbyen School is proving popular with youths after temperatures finally dropped low enough for water sprayed by the Longyearbyen Fire Department to freeze properly. The rink, including a small shelter, was set up this fall by Stig Gaustad and other local volunteers. Tor Punsvik, a father of two children at the rink, said holiday activities including fires and barbecues are planned.
No solution yet for lack of air ambulance service
A solution remains elusive for Svalbard' inadequate air ambulance service, according to officials who this summer said longer-than-usual delays were forcing some patients to wait up to a day for evacuation to Tromsø. New European Union rules limit flight crews to 12 hours of a work per day, causing a shortage of available personnel during some requests for help. The governor's office asked the Norwegian Justice Department to investigate the matter and Roger Ingebrigtsen, state secretary of health care services, said that process is ongoing. "We are in the run-in process now. The ministry would like to get this in place as soon as possible," he said. Options include improving Svalbard's ambulatory capability with a new plane or medical upgrades to an existing government-owned one.
Candles, food a holiday fire risk, officials warn
Plenty of candles and homemade food may make the holidays merry, but they are also two main causes of fire this time of year, according to Fire Chief Jan Olav Sæter. Residential fires are 50 percent higher in December compared to other months. Among last year's incidents was a man who lit candles in a living room, went to the kitchen for a couple of minutes and returned to find they had burned down faster than expected and ignited the table cloth. Extra firefighters will be on duty through the holidays and residents are being asked to take extra precautions such as cleaning stove fans.
Woman says care for errant flu shot delayed
A woman who says she has lost her sense of taste and smell after getting an H1N1 flu vaccination will not be examined by medical officials in Tromsø until at least the end of January. Silje Marie Våtvik, 30, got the flu shot in October and, despite losing several kilograms of weigh and working only half-time, said medical officials in Longyearbyen and Tromsø aren't treating the case as a priority. "I feel that I'm not being taken seriously," she said, adding "I have also been asked if it could be a psychosis or depression." She said she has received several inquiries from people experiencing similar symptoms. Søren Nissen, chief physician at Longyearbyen Hospital, denied they are not taking Våtvik's case seriously, but there is little they can do except refer her to proper officials.
Ny-Ålesund post office gets national cultural recognition
The old post office in Ny-Ålesund was selected as the weekly cultural heritage item for the week-long period beginning Nov. 12 as part of the national Kulturminneåret 2009. The building, apparently built during the 1920s as housing for miners, is one of the oldest in Svalbard. It has also been used as a family home and school, and today is the world's northernmost postal office with seasonal operations and its own ZIP code.
Barentsburg, Longyearbyen split victories at sports exchange
Longyearbyen and Barentsburg won three events each during a weekend sports exchange at Svalbardhallen. About 70 athletes, 28 from Barentsburg, participated in the event that take place annually in both towns. Longyearbyen's victories included 4-1 at soccer, 6-2 at badminton and 12-3 at floorball. Barentsburg's wins were 5-1 at table tennis, 3-2 at volleyball and 5-3 at chess.
Agreement would keep Huset open for events after new center is built
An agreement to keep the theater at Huset operating after the new cultural center is completed has been reached, with an advocate hoping the older building can also be used to continue hosting cultural events. Anne Lise Klungseth Sandvik, who has opposed the new center since discussions about it started several years ago, said a volunteer association will do restoration work at Huset and pay the cost of electricity. Details are still being worked out, with nothing yet in writing, she said. Einar Buø, the city's cultural chief, said he is open to the plan, but advance discussions are needed to ensure conflicts don't arise about the location for specific events.
Howlin' Huskies to play final concert after three years together
Howlin' Huskies will play their final concert as a Longyearbyen blues band Saturday night at Barentz Pub, with band members saying they have differing aspirations after three years. The band made its debut during the 2006 Dark Season Blues festival, featuring Ørjan Augustinussen as the lead vocalist, Nick Weis-Fogh on bass, Glenn Karlsen on drums and Jon Gunnar Hansen on guitar. Kyrre Fledsberg has also been a regular keyboardist for the band. The final concert is intended to be a long performance, as they will play many of the estimated cover songs in their repertoire.
First person sworn in as Norwegian citizen in Svalbard
Constance Andersen, 61, became the first person sworn in as a Norwegian citizen in Svalbard in a ceremony Dec. 2. She moved to Norway in 1971 and married the following year, but considered and declined several times over the years to change her citizenship. Two people were offered the chance to become citizens by Svalbard's governor, but only Andersen accepted. "If you think it's scary, I can say it's scary for me too since it's the first time on Svalbard," said Lt. Gov. Lars Fause during the introduction.
Electricity prices to rise less in 2010
An increase of about 4 percent in Longyearbyen's electricity prices is expected next year, down sharply from an 18 percent increase between 2007 and 2008 and a 21 percent rise from 2008 to 2009. The large increases were because the cost of a backup power plant were partially user funded, whereas the upcoming increase to 1.14 kroner per kilowatt hour is merely for operational costs. The discussions are part of the Longyearbyen Board's deliberations on the city's budget, which will be considered Dec. 15.
Christmas gifts from Svalbard on way to children's hospital
A container of Christmas gifts from 20 donors is on its way from Svalbard to Tromsø, after which it will make a number of stops in northern and central Norway before being given to children at St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim on Dec. 18. In addition to gifts such as a polar bear teddy, toys and chocolates, some adult-oriented items such as a painting by Aino Grib, coffee cups and music by Liv Mari Schei are included for those working in the children's ward at the hospital.
Man charged with drunk driving during weekend checks by police
A man in his 30s was charged with drunk driving following a weekend police check of more than 50 motorists during the morning of Nov. 28. "It shows that there is a need for controls on a regular basis," said Lt. Rune Fred Jensen of the Svalbard governor's office.
Company: Court ruling means no tourist flights to Barentsburg
Plans to fly Russian tourists by helicopter from Longyearbyen to Barentsburg are being abandoned after an appeals court earlier this month upheld a ruling that Trust Arktikugo conducted an illegal flight. An agreement with the Svalbard governor allows flights only for the company's mining and other operations, and a 50,000 fine was imposed after a commercial film crew was taken on a flight of the ice fjords in 2007. Aleksander P. Veselov, the company's general director, said the court ruling gives unfair advantage to Norwegian competitors who have access to Longyearbyen Airport, and it is unrealistic to expect Russian tourists to travel by snowmobile to Barentsburg in March and April. He said he also questions if the policy is fair under the equal treatment principle of the Svalbard Treaty, but has not decided what action he may pursue as a remedy.
Flu shot caused loss of taste and smell, Longyearbyen woman says
A Longyearbyen woman says she lost taste and smell, and been sick for several weeks, after being vaccinated for H1N1 flu. Silje Marie Våtvik, 30, was one of the first residents to receive a shot because she is an employee at Longyearbyen Airport, but said she would have waited and questioned possible effects if given the option. She is on sick leave because she is eating so little food. The Norwegian Medical Agency has received 79 reports of people experiencing similar symptoms, but officials there say it is not known if the incidents are related to the vaccine.
Operational errors cause two power outages
A brief power outage Nov. 19 caused by a employee pressing a wrong button was followed by a longer outage when an error occurred while trying to return from the backup to the main generator, officials said. The first outage at about 7 a.m. occurred during a security check and lasted a few minutes, with power restarted using the backup power plant. At about 9 a.m. an outage lasting about 30 minutes occurred when "we were a little to slow to turn over a switch" and had to reboot the backup power system, said Knut Flå, the city's energy chief.
Man steals car and beer, then wrecks vehicle on roof of old museum
A 25-year-old man from the mainland stole a car from outside a house and heisted a few six packs of beer from Huset before losing control of the vehicle on an icy road and crashing it onto the roof of the old museum, according to police. The man, who admitted drinking, was not injured. He will be prosecuted on the mainland. Police said people should be wary of leaving cars unlocked with the key in the ignition - especially if parked outside a restaurant on a weekend - since insurance companies aren't likely to pay claims in such incidents.
Overnight stays in Svalbard down 10 percent this summer
Overnight visitors in Svalbard declined 10 percent during the summer months of 2009 compared to a year ago, according to officials. A large number of Norwegians choosing to stay on the mainland for holidays is cited as a potentially significant reason, since the northernmost mainland county of Finnmark saw an increase in visitors. The drop continued a trend from the winter months, with Spitsbergen Travel reporting 28.3 million kroner of income during the first three months of 2009 compared to 39.7 million the previous year. There were 37,539 overnight stays in Svalbard during June, July and August, compared to 41,105 in 2008. The decline continued in September, with accommodation days down 13 percent compared with a year ago.
Company acquitted, captain blamed for glacier accident during cruise
Ocean Wide Expeditions has been acquitted of charges and an 800,000 kroner fine related to an August 2007 cruise that traveled too close to a calving glacier, resulting in injuries to 23 people. A trial ending Nov 5 in Nord-Troms District Court found no evidence officials with the Dutch tour company asked the captain to approach the glacier in Hornsund as closely as he did. The Russian captain was more concerned about giving passengers "a spectacular and spooky experience than security," according to the court. Attempts to serve the captain with a summons have been unsuccessful. Svalbard Deputy Gov. Lars Fause, noting efforts by Russian officials have also failed, said "we have given up" and put the matter on hold.
Ny-Ålesund mapping site to also bring fiber optic cable to community
Norway's mapping authority is planning to build a new monitoring station in Ny-Ålesund to collect more precise data than the existing one. The project, expected to cost nearly 200 million kroner, will also require a fiber optic cable be extended from Longyearbyen to the station, which will improve communications access for other scientists in the community. The station monitors variations in the Earth's crust and corrects data from GPS satellites.
Test drill at possible liquid CO2 depository a success
A drilling test has been successfully conducted into sandstone potentially suitable as a depository for liquid carbon dioxide by The University Centre In Svalbard. The project, in cooperation with StatoilHydro, drilled an 870-meter-deep well at the old aurora station in Adventdalen, encountering thick sandstone at the bottom 100 meters that may be suitable for storage. "Now we pump water into the sandstone layer to find out how much water the sandstone can accept per hour," said Alvar Braathen, a geology professor at UNIS. A largest test lasting three or four weeks is scheduled at the beginning of next year.
Seed vault wins award for outdoor lighting
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the winner of the Norwegian Lyspris 2009 art award for outdoor lighting, with judges stating artist Dyveke Sanne's decor portrays the vault as containing something valuable and beautiful. They also cite "the hope represented by the hundreds of thousands of frozen seeds preserved inside the permafrost. In sunlight, other conflicts and reflections give quite different effects than in the dark. The significance of the contents of the vault is both real and poetic." The award, given separately for indoor and outdoor lighting, is presented every two years.
New map monitoring station to bring fiber optic cable to Ny-Ålesund
Norway's mapping authority is planning to build a new monitoring station in Ny-Ålesund to collect more precise data than the existing one. The project, expected to cost nearly 200 million kroner, will also require a fiber optic cable be extended from Longyearbyen to the station, which will improve communications access for other scientists in the community. The station monitors variations in the Earth's crust and corrects data from GPS satellites.
Svalbard's digital archives get big boost from governor's grants
All four applications seeking grants for cultural and historical projects will receive money from Svalbard's Environmental Protection Fund, according to the governor's office. Grants include 400,000 kroner to the Svalbard Museum for digitalizing and disseminating its historic photo collection; 175,000 kroner to Tone Nødtvedt for digitalizing historic photos taken during the 1950s by his father, Erling, that will be provided to the museum; 150,000 kroner to Svalbardposten for digitalization of their archive; and 50,000 kroner for a film project in Barentsburg.
Rock festival among winners of local cultural grants
Spitsbergen Rock is among the noteworthy recipients of more than 2.5 million kroner in welfare and culture grants awarded by Longyearbyen. The rock festival, which debuted this year, received 60,000 kroner to continue the event. The established Polarjazz and Dark Season Blues festivals each received 70,000 kroner, even though the latter missed the Oct. 1 application deadline. Camp Svalbard received the largest grant of 620,000 kroner, with Svalbard Turn receiving 550,000 kroner. A total of 45 applications were received by the deadline, not counting the blues festival, seeking a total of 7.8 million kroner. Eight applicants did not receive any funds.
Icy runway forces SAS flight to turn around
An icy runway at Longyearbyen Airport forced a Scandinavian Airlines fight to turn around over Bjørnøya and return to Tromsø on Monday, officials said. An extra flight is not scheduled, but there appears to be adequate space on Tuesday for passengers traveling both to and from Longyearbyen.
Plan to turn closed Mine 3 into museum revived
Store Norske is planning to turn Mine 3 into a technical and industrial museum, reviving a proposal originating five years ago. The mine concluded operations in 1996 and Arne Kristoffersen, a miner at the company, initiated the museum efforts. The company decided last fall to close the facility, citing security reasons, but is now prepared to invest as much as 10 million kroner in safety renovations. Store Norske plans to establish a separate company to run what it expects to be a large-scale project.
Trial begins for company, captain accused of sailing too close to glacier
A trial is underway for a Dutch tour operator that navigated a cruise ship too close to a calving glacier in Hornsund, resulting in 23 people injured when ice and sea water washed over the vessel. Oceanwide Expeditions charted a Russian ship for the August 2007 voyage and was fined 800,000 kroner for the incident, which the company has not paid. The captain of the ship was also charged and fined 25,000 kroner for negligent navigation, but efforts to serve him with a summons have been unsuccessful. The trial in Nord-Troms district court began Tuesday and is expected to last until Wednesday.
Store Norske to trim jobs using early retirement, education incentives
Store Norske will offer early retirement to workers ages 55 to 60 and offer educational support to others in an effort to eliminate 90 positions from its 400-person workforce by the end of next year. The mining company plans to scale back to 360 positions this year and 250 by 2015, said CEO Bjørn Arnestad. He said this year's reduction should be possible through attrition instead of layoffs, but future cuts will be more challenging. He said details of the early retirement and education plans are still being worked out. The company was hit by plummeting coal prices due to the global recession, but Arnestad said record prices in earlier years allowed to company to avoid more drastic cost-cutting measures.
600 locals to be interviewed about living conditions
Statistics Norway will be contacting about 600 Longyearbyen residents at random during the next three weeks to conduct interviews about living conditions. Topics will include housing, personal finance, living habits, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activities and other subjects. In-person interviews are scheduled for November, with officials hoping to reach a range of locals, including foreigners, in Svalbard's population registry. Results are scheduled for publication next June. A similar survey was conducted in 2000 and officials hope to continue conducting them about once every eight years.
Man caught in early avalanche escapes uninjured
A man caught in an avalanche Sunday while hiking up Sarkofagen escaped without harm, according to the Svalbard governor's office. The man and a woman, both Longyearbyen residents and experienced hikers, did not consider the risk of slides high this early in the season and were not carrying avalanche gear, said Inge Meløy, the governor's chief deputy. The man was carried about 70 meters down the mountain and buried to his chest in snow, but was excavated by his hiking partner and was not injured. Heavy snow has fallen the past several days, although the weather is expected to be mostly cloudy and cold this week.
Engine fails during flight to Svea, crew lands safely
An engine failed just after takeoff during a passenger flight Thursday from Longyearbyen to Svea, but the crew managed to restart the engine in the air a few minutes later and land safely, officials said. A number of passengers described the incident as unpleasant due to wind, snow and heavy turbulence. But Hans Irgens, chief pilot for Lufttransport AS, said the crew is trained for such failures and the situation did not become dangerous. The plane, one of two used for flights to Svea, is being grounded until the cause of the failure is determined.
Mammal tracks from Mine 7 to be preserved
Jørn Hurum, an official with Oslo's natural history museum, said an excavation of mammal tracks from Mine 7 will be attempted in November to preserve them before the section of the mine they are in is closed. The footprints were discovered in 2006 by Håvard Dyrkolbotn and Kent Solberg. Hurum's research determined they made by large mammals about 60 million years ago. He plans to work with local youths removing the footprints, which will be given to the Svalbard Museum.
Swine flu vaccinations available starting Saturday
Vaccinations for H1N1 flu will be offered to Longyearbyen residents starting Saturday. Longyearbyen Hospital received 500 doses of the vaccine Wednesday and will offer them first to people considered most at risk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Others are welcome to come after 1 p.m. Vaccinations will also be offered Tuesday afternoon, with two hours for at-risk residents followed by two hours for the general public. People not available those days can contact the hospital to schedule a time. Those vaccinated will also need a second shot three weeks later.
Svalbard taxpayers join online database
Tax payments of Svalbard residents are now searchable online, joining a database maintained for the rest of Norway. Norway's government made payments available to the media until 2004 when a more conservative government banned publication. A more liberal government reinstated the policy in 2007 and made it possible to distribute the information online. Defenders of the policy say it enhances transparency, essential for an open democracy, while critics say the list is a threat to society due to social stigmas and allowing criminals to find prime targets. Longyearbyen's richest person in 2008, according to the database, was Bård Gundersen with a fortune of 17,556,000 kroner, including an income last year of 1,969,773 kroner. The Svalbard list is also on the first floor of the bank/post office.
Longyearbyen among 20 cities selected for lower voting age
The 2011 local election will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, as Longyearbyen was among 20 municipalities selected for the experimental program by the Norwegian government. A total of 143 municipalities applied for the program, with participants selected to reflect a range of size, geography, political makeup of the local governing council and other factors. Officials at the national and local level said they hope the program will encourage more youths to become involved in the political process.
Greenpeace fined 20,000 for bringing too much beer to Tromsø
Greenpeace has been fined 20,000 kroner after customs agents in Tromsø found 1,250 cans of beer aboard the Arctic Sunrise a few days after the group staged a daylong blockade at the Svea coal mine. "We had a routine inspection when the ship arrived in Tromsø and found there was 627 liters of beer too much on board in relation to what was declared," said Atle Joakimsen, regional customs director for northern Norway. The matter was reported to police who issued the fine, which was paid on the spot. The Arctic Sunrise was about to depart for Amsterdam last Thursday when the customs inspection occurred. "It was embarrassing and very annoying after a four-month-long expedition to Greenland and Svalbard," said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway.
Leader of company shipping Svalbard coal to Europe killed in wreck
Atle Jebsen, 73, longtime head of the company responsible for shipping coal from Svalbard to mainland Europe, was killed Tuesday in a traffic accident in Voss. He was the administrative director of Kristian Jebsens and head of other affiliated companies beginning in 1967. He was also president of the Norwegian Shipowners Association from 1982 to 1983. Police said Jebsen was a passenger in a car that struck a truck and then collided with a second truck. His colleague, Gerd Marit Widding Johnsen, 66, was also killed and a third person in the car hospitalized. None of the occupants of the other vehicles were injured.
Polar seabird researcher wins 2009 Nansen Award
Geir Wing Gabrielsen, a researcher for the Norwegian Polar Institute, is the 2009 winner of the Fram Committee's Nansen Award for polar research. Gabrielsen, an adjunct professor at The University Centre In Svalbard, leads research on environmental contaminants. He often uses seabirds in his studies, since they are high in the food chain and easily available for studying how toxins are transported by air and ocean into polar regions.
Students monitoring motorists find most drive too fast
Students who think Longyearbyen motorists are driving too fast are taking matters into their own hands. Using a stopwatch they timed vehicles driving a 50-meter stretch near the center of town. They said the results were disheartening, since it should take six seconds at the 30 km/h limit for residential areas imposed by signs recently put up around town and the average speed was 38. "We measured one who took 3.65 seconds. which means they drove almost 50," said Tor Selnes, school recreation assistant. City officials praised the youths, saying the issue is worthy of addressing through increased public awareness and police exercising speed control.
Store Norske gets OK for mobile phone relay station
Store Norske has received permission from the Svalbard governor's office to place a mobile phone repeating station at Slaknosa in Reindalen. The company had to remove two illegal stations in the area and pay a 500,000 kroner fine last year. The new station is in a far less visible location. The station is along a run used by workers traveling and transporting equipment between Longyearbyen and Svea, with the company saying full mobile coverage is vital for safety reasons, especially during poor weather that had necessitated rescue efforts in the past.
Fox-trapping permits awarded to 23 people in drawing
A drawing awarding Arctic Fox trapping permits to 23 people from 55 applicants was conducted by the Svalbard governor's office Oct. 6. The total was reduced from the 43 permits last year. A mandatory course for trappers is Oct. 27, with trapping season lasting from Nov. 1 to March 15.
Bank preparing to eliminate most over-the-counter cash withdrawals
Withdrawing over-the-counter cash from Longyearbyen's only bank is being phased out, although it will still be available from the ATM and stores. Daniel Nyhagen, manager of the local Sparebank 1 Nord-Norge branch, said managing cash is expensive and "what we're doing now is something all competitors have done long ago." Most customers, he added, use internet and telephone banking. The bank plans to complete the process at all branches by 2012 - and is planning to close one-fourth of them. Nyhagen said the cash phase-out at the Longyearbyen branch may happen sooner, but it is not targeted for closure. He said local officials are working on solutions for those who need cash to conduct transactions.
Trapper doesn't have exclusive right to area for gathering down, agency rules
Trapper Harald A. Soleim doesn't have exclusive rights to gather down on Gåsøyane, the Svalbard governor's Directorate for Nature Management has ruled. The dispute began earlier this year when two men asked Soleim for permission to collect down in the nature preserve, where he has held a permit for several years, and were refused. The directorate ruled the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act allows all residents to collect down and eggs, and permit applications can be submitted before April 1 next year. Soleim said he may appeal to the Ombudsman, saying competition in permitted areas will lead to "anarchy."
Man will again attempt Svalbard to Alaska balloon trip in spring
Frenchman Jean-Louis Étienne will try again to fly in a balloon from Svalbard to Alaska next spring, an expedition cut short last year when the balloon was destroyed in a storm while anchored in France. Étienne, whose extensive polar exploits include a solo ski trip to the North Pole, said he will take continuous CO2 and magnetic field measurements during the balloon trip, with an emphasis on how climate change will affect indigenous people of the north.
Biometerics security scanner arrives in Svalbard
A biometrics terminal that scans fingerprints and newer passports with electronic chips will enhance border security, according to the Svalbard governor's office, which received the machine Tuesday. The machine, which compares pictures or fingerprints with data stored in the passport chip, is being installed at police stations throughout Norway. So-called "e-gate" checks are expected to become mandatory within the new few years.
Researcher hotel gets approval from UNIS, developer
An agreement to build a hotel for researchers has been reached by The University Centre In Svalbard and developer Barlindhaug Utbygging. The facility, targeted for completion during the winter of 2010-11, would provide 52 units for guest lecturers and doctoral students. UNIS will lease the building with the hope of eventually purchasing it.
Police respond to incidents at restaurant, lodge
Police responded to calls early Saturday morning of an intoxicated man in the restroom at Classic Pizza and another knocking on doors at Mary-Ann's Polarrigg. The man in the restroom was escorted home without incident, while the man at the lodge was not found. An official said it is not known if the incidents my have been the result of Longyearbyen's first Oktoberfest celebration.
Removal of Russian ship may cost 350 million kroner
Removal of the Russian cargo ship Petrosavodsk from the coast of Bjørnøya may cost 350 million kroner, according to the Norwegian Coastal Adminstration. That is nearly four times the amount estimated by Titan Salvage, hired to remove the vessel than ran aground in the protected wilderness area May 11. Removal will not be possible until at least next summer and the Norwegian government will be stuck paying the extra costs.
Vandals hit children's nursery - again
Vandals kicked in the door of the Kullungen children's nursery Sept. 20, a site where other incidents involving youths have been reported in the past. Arne Rennedal, the nursery's manager, said repairs were made the following day and the incident has been reported to the governor's office.
Maternity leave threatens job at Store Norske, woman says
Julia Navarsete, 29, says she's worried taking maternity leave to deliver her second child in late September will cause her to lose her job, based on notices and statements from Store Norske. She said three weeks before her scheduled departure a company personnel official "said that Store Norske could not continue to facilitate working time for me after the leave, so I should maybe find a different employer." A written notice and subsequent meeting confirmed the decision, she said. Navarsete said she then took her concern to Bjorn Arnestad, the company's CEO, and "he said I obviously was welcomed back at work, and that this was a case they would solve." But, after getting an e-mail from a personnel director confirming her employment with no details about a schedule - and lacking an apology - she said bad feelings remain about the incident. The company declined to comment about the dispute, citing privacy law restrictions, but said it does comply with work environment regulations.
New, safer road to Mine 7 in operation
A new road to Mine 7 is operational, with a few finishing touches that will be done before winter weather sets in, according to Store Norske officials. Plans for the road were adopted last summer because the old road is vulnerable to landslides, such as one more than 100 meters in width in 2005, and frequent small avalanches during the winter. Work was supposed to be completed Aug. 1, but conditions during the winter led to delays. The old road will remain in place, but not be plowed during the winter. "Nature is going to close the road automatically," said Atle Brekken, the mine's manager.
Spitsbergen Hotel worker is top (Arctic) chef
Anne-Berit Mydland Simonsen, 23, a cook at the Spitsbergen Hotel, defeated seven other chefs from northern Norway to win the Arctic Cook competition Sept. 16 in Tromsø. "I was a couple minutes behind schedule, I did not have enough salt in the food, but I made no big mistakes," she said about the three-course menu she was required to make, including a raw shrimp starter, cox and ox tails for the main course, and an apple-crowberry dessert. Sven-Erik Svendsen, the hotel's director, said it is the first time an employee there has won the competition, which this year included a 15,000-kroner prize. Also entering from Longyearbyen was Stian Hansen, who finished fourth.
Russian trawler accused of illegal fish dumping
The Russian trawler Melkart appears have illegally dumped fish in protected waters on the west side of Spitsbergen, according to the Norwegian Coast Guard after filming the incident. A helicopter filmed the dumping Sept. 17 and Coast Guard officials boarded the vessel and escorted it to Longyearbyen. "The dumping of fish is a very serious form of environmental crime that the Coast Guard has a large focus on," the agency said in a prepared statement. Prosecutors in Tromsø will investigate the case.
Ingerø returns for second term as governor
Odd Olsen Ingerø, 58, returned after four years to his old job as Svalbard's governor, becoming only the second person appointed to two terms. Ingerø, a career law enforcement official, departed Svalbard after serving from 2001 to 2005 to become head of Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service. He reapplied for governor, saying it was difficult to leave the first time, after Per Sefland announced earlier this year he was bypassing an optional fifth year in office. Sefland, also a career law enforcement official, is returning to the National Police Directorate. The only other governor to serve two terms was Leif Eldring from 1974 to 1978 and 1986 to 1991.
Youths arrested for setting fire to facility with ammo and flammable liquids
Two boys, ages 13 and 14, were arrested after setting a fire Saturday night at a storage hall used by IGP at Sjøskrenten. Officials said the incident could have developed into a major blaze because of flammable liquids and ammunition at the site. Firefighters extinguished the flames with foam as a large crowd looked on and the boys were apprehended after a witness saw them leave the scene. Child welfare officials are determining what, if any, action will be taken against the youths, who admitted setting the fire after being captured.
New Svalbard GPS map may lead some astray
A new digital map of Svalbard by Geoinsight apparently leads users of some GPS units astray, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute, which submitted data for the map. Officials with the institute said they are not responsible for the maps themselves, which don't provide correct locations on all Garmin devices. Among the problems are slow updates when trying to view larger areas on the Garmin 276C, the most common portable unit for snowmobiles in Svalbard, and ill-definied displays of land and sea on the 525 model commonly used on boats. A Garmin retailer said he does not believe the company will address the issue because of the small size of the Svalbard market.
Woman accidentally shot in foot aboard cruise ship
A female crew worker was hit in the foot by an accidental gun shot Friday evening aboard the cruise ship Quest, but was not seriously injured, according to the Svalbard governor's office. The Swedish vessel was at Isfjorden returning to Longyearbyen when a male crew member fired the gun inside a cabin, with the shot traveling through the deck into another cabin when the woman was. The man was a polar bear guard while the vessel was docked, but did not follow usual security procedure by emptying the rifle before returning on board. The woman was operated on at Longyearbyen Hospital and officials are investigating to determine if charges will be filed against the man.
New director of Kings Bay named
Roger Jakobsen, 46, has been appointed the new director of Kings Bay. The Nordreisa resident has a lengthy military background and is currently a teacher at the Norwegian Defense College. He has been to the station twice on private visits and said he applied for the director's post, which he begins this fall, because "Arctic conditions and that which tends toward the extremes of nature have always tantalized me."
Ban enacted on visiting eight sites around Svalbard, heavy oil on west coast
Eight sites in Svalbard are being closed to visitors and heavy oil is being banned in national parks on the west side of the archipelago, the governing council announced Friday. The sites, at locations throughout Svalbard, are being closed to preserve cultural relics from damage being caused by traffic (map of closed sites). The oil ban, primarily affecting large cruise ships, extends a similar restriction for east Svalbard enacted in 2007. The new regulations take effect Jan. 1, 2010.
Spitsbergen Hotel to close early, lay off 22 after poor season
The Spitsbergen Hotel will close Sept. 25 instead of Nov. 1 and 22 employees are being laid off due to a sharp drop in business. Spitsbergen Travel Director Trygve Steen said operating income fell from 26 million kroner during the first half of 2008 to 10.8 million kroner this year. "The most central cause of the decline has been the course and conference market," he said, adding employees knew an early closure was possible. Layoffs will include seasonal, permanent and workers already on leave.
Hunters shooting infected reindeer may be allowed another kill
Hunters shooting reindeer infected with tapeworms may be allowed to shoot another animal, according to officials. Similar exemptions were granted by the Svalbard governor's office in 2006 for animals deemed to be unsuitable for consumption. Audun Stien of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research said consumption of the animals by humans is not dangerous. but would be unappetizing. There have been two inquiries about infected animals so far this year from 71 hunters who have killed reindeer. There were no such requests the previous two years.
Wrecked Russian ship to remain at Bjørnøya until at least next summer
The Petrosavodsk cannot be removed from the coast of Bjørnøya until at least next summer, according to the company hired to salvage the grounded Russian ship. The Norwegian Coastal Administration has told the Svalbard governor the alternatives are to leave the wreck on the beach or haul it into deeper water out of sight, but cannot say which of the three options is most likely. The ship is already broken in two and damage incurred during winter will make removal even more difficult. Titan Salvage estimates removal will take 60 days and cost more than 90 million kroner, which may exceed what the ship's owners are required to pay - meaning the Norwegian state would have to foot some of the bill. The Petrosavodsk ran aground in the protected bird sanctuary May 11 due to crew neglect, with the captain and first mate sentenced to jail time for their roles.
Tour boat seaworthy again a week after being hit by cruise ship
A tour boat hit while in dock by a cruise ship will resume voyages this week after completing repairs, officials said. The Langøysund, carrying about 25 passengers, sustained damage to a crane that lowers lifeboats into the water July 28 when the 80-passenger Antarctic Dream struck. The captain of the larger vessel said the engines responded unexpectedly while he was trying to back up. Henningsen Transport & Guiding officials said a precise total from losing 250 passengers during the week of repairs isn't known, but the company loses 30,000 to 40,000 kroner each day the boat is not operating.
Deputy governor fined 5,000 kroner for accidental indoor shot
Svalbard's Deputy Gov. Lars Faus has been fined 5,000 kroner for firing a shot in his home in June. He said at the time he accidentally fired a live bullet instead of a blank while preparing a hunting rifle. The shot hit a chair and then the floor, but no injuries resulted. "It was as expected - I have received a response as any other would get doing the same thing," he said of the sentence.
Engine trouble halts Polar Star's voyage to Greenland
The Polar Star cruise ship, after completing its last Spitsbergen trip of the summer, was prevented from departing Friday for a voyage to Greenland due to engine trouble. Spitsbergen Travel CEO Trygve Steen said Det Norske Veritas, a non-governmental foundation that assess the seaworthiness of vessels, stopped the Polar Star. He said he does not know what is wrong with the engine, which will remain in Longyearbyen until parts arrive and repairs are made. The more than 90 passengers scheduled to make the trip were booked on to flights home.
Busen cafe to close for good by end of year
Kafé Busen, long known as the where miners came for simple and study fare, is not extending its contract with Lompensenteret. The restaurant, which has already been closed to the public for some time this summer due to declining business, will close permanently by the end of the year. "It is possible we will do a little cafe reopening in September," said Karl Våtvik, who purchased the eatery with his wife, Berit, in 2007. The kitchen has continued catering for events, commercial flights and other activities. Våtvik said their kitchen work will continue in a new facility that's part of their Svalbard Villmarkssenter ecotourism operation. Lompensenteret is seeking new tenants as they develop an additional 700 square meters of space.
Longyearbyen pays 200,000 kroner to settle architect dispute
Longyearbyen's local council will pay 200,000 kroner to settle a dispute with L2 Arkitekter after their bid to design the city's new cultural center was canceled. The company was selected in 206, but a year later city officials said the 88 million kroner cost of the design was too high and rejected the proposal. L2 responded with a demand for 700,000 kroner for their completed work and threatened last year to go to court if not paid. Einar Buø, head of the city's culture and leisure department, said the settlement cost less than going to trial. Jon Flatebø, head of L2 Architects, said "no one is really happy with the settlement...it hurts that we did not get this job."
Man trying to warn others about polar bear shoots self in hand
A man in his 60s shot himself in the hand with a flare gun aboard a boat while trying to fire a warning to alert a group on land nearby about a polar bear in the area, officials said. The accident happened Aug. 20 in Van Keulenfjorden, with the man saying he thought the signal gun was empty and it fired when he tried to insert a new cartridge. Officials have not determined if the incident will be classified as criminal or accidental.
Rules of the road changing as new street signs are posted
New road signs are being posted in Longyearbyen, including yield signs at several major intersections. More signs will be posted as part of a new plan for the city, taking effect as soon as they are set up.
Environmental project fund expanded; application deadline Sept. 15
An extra 1 million kroner is being distributed from Svalbard's environmental protection fund, bringing this fall's allocation for protection measures and projects to 4.4 million kroner. Applications are being accepted until Sept. 15 for funding projects aimed at environmental-friendly tourism, information campaigns, youth activities, cooperative efforts with Russians and research such as climate change. The award is the fifth since the fund was established two years ago, with a total of 12.4 million allocated.
Cruise ship severely damages tour boat in dock collision
The cruise ship Antarctic Dream collided with the tour vessel Langøysund while it was anchored at Bykaia on Tuesday morning. The 80-passenger cruise ship sustained minor damage but the Loangøsund, carrying about 25 passengers, suffered severe damage to the crane which, among other uses, places rescue boats in the water. No injures were reported. The Antarctic Dream captain said he was trying to back up, but the engine did not respond properly. The incident in being investigated by the Svalbard governor's office and inspectors must also determine if the vessels are seaworthy.
Tourists behaving well in nature areas, inspectors say
People are behaving well in nature areas this summer, according to field inspectors with the Svalbard governor's office. The five officials inspected 42 boats with more than 500 tourists during a six-week period in response to an environmental violation involving a large expedition in an area limited to groups of 12 or less. The inspectors are also helping researchers with animal and vegetation observations, spotting 178 walruses and 31 polar bears.
Children light fire under home; no damage
Two children, ages 7 and 10, who said they found matches and a lighter lit a fire Monday under the platform supporting a house at Blåmyra, officials said. The fire was extinguished without damage, but officials said the incident presented considerable danger. Playing under such platforms, which are common in Longyearbyen, is also being discouraged because of the danger presented by the technical installations under the homes.
More reindeer hunting permits issued as season begins
A total of 344 people are being allowed to hunt one reindeer this year, 35 more than last year, with 132 taking hunting cards during opening weekend, the Svalbard governor's office reported Friday. Last year 191 reindeer were killed, the second-highest since totals have been tallied in 1983. Officials are conducting checks in hunting areas to ensure people have permits.
Record number of students at Longyearbyen School
A record 241 primary school students are enrolled at Longyearbyen School, 28 more than last year. Officials said they have increased staff and made some minor building changes to accommodate the increase, but the school needs more space. Plans are beginning for an 11 million kroner expansion scheduled for 2011.
Anniversary of Svalbard Treaty marked
Flags were at high staff Aug. 14 to commemorate the enactment of the Svalbard Treaty in 1925, when Norway took over sovereignty of the archipelago. The agreement was signed Feb. 9, 1920, and 40 nations have currently signed the treaty.
New semester starts at UNIS
Nearly 400 students began attending their first lectures of the semester Monday at The University Center In Svalbard. Administrative Director Gunnar Sand said there are two to three applications for each vacancy, compared to three years ago when all eligible applicants were accepted. Among the mandatory courses is Arctic survival training, which has already started. "They go around in the hallways with their survival suits on, so they are well underway," Sand said.
Swine flu precautions urged as locals return from travels
Svalbard has escaped swine flu so far, but there is a strong chance that will change as residents return from summer travels, according to Trond Egil Hansen, a doctor at Longyearbyen Hospital. The dangers are magnified in a small community because few are immune from the virus, also known as H1N1, plus there are limited medical officials and flight personnel to handle emergencies. Hansen said the hospital is equipped to treat patients and airport officials said employees have received instructions to reduce their risk of exposure. More information about the flu and cases in Norway is available at www.pandemi.no/pandemi/english.
Time for a late summer cleaning, officials say
A challenge to clean up litter, wrecked equipment and other junk this month is being made by Longyearbyen and Store Norske officials. Rusty jugs, wood pallets, inoperative snowscooters and other waste are still scattered around the city despite an effort earlier this year that received a "lukewarm reception." Terje Carlsen, communications manager for Store Norske, said now may be an opportune time with people returning from travels and "it is important that we get it done before the snow comes."
A plum (tree) discovery by UNIS student
A master's student at The University Centre In Svalbard has made the unusual discovery of two small fruit trees sprouting in Svea. Bente Sved Skottvoll found them while participating in a vegetation study, with field researchers sending photos by mobile phone to colleagues who said they are likely plum trees. Both trees have been potted for preservation, but some at UNIS are worried they may be smuggled. "It's very cool to have a tree from Svalbard in the garden," wrote Professor Pernille Bronken Eidesen in an e-mail from the field study.
Group banned from restaurants after causing disturbance
About five people from a Norwegian fishing trawler were banned from all Longyearbyen restaurants and pubs after they reportedly caused a disturbance and stole a bottle of liquor at Karls-Berger Pub, according to police. Officials also received a report of a missing car from a man returning from a sailing vacation, which was apparently "borrowed" illegally and left elsewhere in town with the keys in the ignition. Also, a person was reported riding on a bicycle not belonging to him; officials are asking anyone missing an older bike to contact the Svalbard governor's office.
Svalbard tourism down 30 percent this year
The number of visitors to Svalbard is down 30 percent during the first six months of 2009 compared to a year ago, according to statistics from Svalbard Tourism. Total days spent here by travelers is down a somewhat smaller 20 percent. "The economy is tighter in Europe than in Norway," said Tove Eliassen, who recently departed as the tourism agency's manager. She said the struggle is likely to continue as the dark months approach since "it is difficult to fill beds in the fourth quarter."
Five people predict 'breach day' for 'breaking' of Champagne snow
Five of 228 entrants correctly predicted July 28 as the date when the Champagne snow on Opera Mountain in Adventdalen would "break" in a contest by Svalbardposten. Mild weather and rain in recent days accelerated the melt, making the fateful date the same as last year.
Rot of historic buildings and ruins to be measured
Specialists in rot decay have been granted permission to take samples from a number of older buildings and ruins. High heat from the midnight sun and humidity resulting when water doesn't disappear into permafrost are causing conditions ideal for decay, said Siri Hoem, the Svalbard governor's heritage advisor. Consultants familiar with biological building damage will begin work in Ny-Ålesund and other locations next month.
Help sought in chasing polar bear from Isfjord radio field station
The Svalbard governor's office is considering a request for help to oust an increasingly aggressive polar bear from the Isfjord radio field station. Field Superintendent Tor Røislien said an attempt to chase away the bear with a tractor was unsuccessful and further attempts were thwarted by poor weather.
New rules for flight crews causing long air ambulance waits
New European Union rules limiting flight crews to 12 hours of a work per day are making it much harder to get air ambulance service to Longyearbyen, officials said. "We fear that patients who need rapid transport to the mainland will not get it before it's too late," said Kari Schrøder Hansen, a surgeon at Longyearbyen Hospital. "We have seen that we have to call all the way at the start of a shift to get an ambulance. If we are calling later and the plane is on another mission, they prefer not to come here." A recent patient who had to wait a day for transport to Tromsø eventually died and, while it was determined that would have occurred regardless, Hansen said a temporary solution is needed quickly while a longer-term remedy is sought.
Airport wants to start charging for parking
A 30 percent drop in air traffic this year and an abundance of cars parked for long stretches may cause the Longyearbyen Airport to start charging for parking this fall or next spring. Airport Manager Ole M. Rambech said it is frequently difficult to find space in the lot because of the large number of locals on vacation. "We are the only one in Norway with such a system," he said. "It is partly a curiosity and also nice, but we can not use several million kroner to expand the parking lot." He said parking would likely remain free for one day, allowing those who commute to Svea to avoid charges.
Engine-room fire drill goes smoothly aboard vessel
Longyearbyen firefighters responded quickly and well to an exercise Wednesday involving a fire and a man trapped in the engine-room aboard the Polar Girl, officials said. Rescuers, not notified about the drill in advance, extinguished the fire, recovered a doll from the room and completed the operation within 24 minutes.
Boat delayed by grounding while at sea
The vessel Kongsøy, carrying 26 people to Danskegattet at the northwest corner of Spitsbergen, was delayed after striking the ocean floor Tuesday, officials said. The ship, listing 10 degrees after the impact, was examined and determined safe to remain on during the two to three hours before high tide, which allowed the vessel to go to Ny-Ålesund for further inspection. The coastal cruise ship Origo remained nearby during the wait in case assistance became necessary.
Attacking polar bear shot by hiker on Hopen island
A man working at the meteorological station on Hopen shot and killed a polar bear after it attacked him during a hike, a police official said Monday. The man was north of the station with his dog and fired several warning shots as the bear approached, finally killing it when it was about 15 meters away. He immediately used a satellite phone to call officials, who brought the bear by helicopter to Longyearbyen. The animal was classified as a very skinny adult male weighing 200 kilograms with teeth in poor condition.
Rough seas prevent draining of fuel from ship
Salvagers are unable to drain fuel from the wreckage of the Petrozavodsk because the weather is causing heavy seas, according to Norwegian Coastal Administration officials. A longer delay may result if conditions don't improve within 10 days because of the high number of birds that will be in the water then, which officials don't want to endanger if an accident occurs. The Russian ship ran aground in the protected sanctuary of Bear Island on June 11, with much of the diesel inside spilling out gradually since. A coastal official said they have not received any pollution messages during the past week.
Permission for survey of new coal sites granted
Store Norske has received approval from the Svalbard governor's office to conduct geological surveys of four Lunckefjellet sites. The company originally applied to study 11 sites for coal potential, including five in Nordenskiöld Land National Park, but the revised request does not include any park land. Store Norske hopes to begin the surveys in August.
Rock festival incurs deficit, organizers still looking toward next year
The inaugural Spitsbergen Rock festival ran up a 20,000 kroner deficit due to unexpected expenses, but organizers are already planning next year's event. Among the expenses were extra rooms for band members not wanting to share and airplane tickets that could only be ordered a few days in advance.
Bird observatory too far out on beach, city claims
The new LoFF-huset bird observatory is incorrectly located too far out on the beach, according to Longyearbyen municipal officials after an inspection. Members of the Longyearbyen Field Biology Society are objecting, saying work by the city's utility division have ruined the plot around the observatory. The two sides are determining if the building must be moved.
Demolishing of ancient coal facility begins
Demolition is underway of a coal processing plant used from 1964 to 2000, with work expected to take two to three months. The removal of oppredningsverket (ORV) facility was delayed a month due to permitting and other logistics issues. Workers are expected to demolish and ship 2,000 tons of scrap to the mainland. The plant was closed because coal sorting now takes place at Mine 7.
Removal of fuel from wrecked ship may begin Wednesday
Norwegian officials are hoping fuel can be drained starting Wednesday from the wrecked Petrozavodsk in the waters off Bear Island. The ship ran aground June 11, spilling diesel into a protected bird sanctuary. The ship still contains 25 cubic meters of diesel and 700 liters of slighter heavier engine oil. A salvage company has spent the past month working with Norwegian officials assessing the site, with weather and shore conditions presenting difficulties in removing the vessel. It is still uncertain what will happen with the wreckage once the fuel is removed.
Officials fear new boat regulation will hurt small operators
A proposal restricting boats with 12 or fewer passengers from sailing outside Isfjorden or more than five nautical miles from a refuge is concerning some Svalbard officials. "These operators provide diversification in tourism in Svalbard," said Tove Eliassen, tourism manager for Svalbard Reiseliv. "We risk losing the niche operators." The regulation is being sought by the Norwegian Maritime Directorate because the vessels lack requirements for hull strength, stability and watertight sections. Else Heldre, the agency's director, said the change "is the mildest form of restriction" and should not cause problems because operators can get a certificate to travel beyond the limited area by establishing a security system detailing things such as maintenance.
New fire tanker truck arrives in Longyearbyen
A new fire tanker truck arrived Wednesday in Longyearbyen, replacing one that has been in service for 20 years. The 2 million kroner vehicle, which attracted plenty of attention from locals and tourists during its first test drive, has more water capacity and a built-in pump, making it less vulnerable during winter than a front-mounted pump on the older truck.
Road, not new homes, in wrong place, builder says
New homes aren't being built too close to the road - it's the road that is too close to the homes, according to the developer of the Elvesletta Syd project. "It is probably that the road is wider than it should have been, or it is in the wrong place in relation to what is drawn on the map," said Jarle Oksfjellelv, construction manager for Leonhard Nilsen & Sønner. A Longyearbyen planning and development official said it does not appear the close proximity is a problem and there have been no complaints.
Sámi reindeer owners threaten to chase away Store Norske gold miners
Reindeer owners upset about the environmental impact of Store Norske Gull's gold exploration activities in the Sámi mountain region of Karasjok are threatening to send 400 members to chase away company workers. The herders told the Ságat newspaper they see "pipe sticking up out of the ground, oil spills, chemical tests" and other damage, and parts of the area are "destroyed forever." Jørgen Stenvold, the company's exploration manager, said he is puzzled by the accusations and would "welcome" the reindeer herders to "sit down and talk together" if they arrive. But he said the company is in compliance with regulations and, absent a legal order to leave, "we will remain there."
Store Norske facing layoffs, restructuring due to low coal prices, demand
"A tough restructuring" of Store Norske is necessary as coal prices have fallen from $165 a ton in 2008 to $65 this year, said CEO Bjørn Arnestad. Demand from Europe is also sharply lower as the global economic crisis is reducing operations at steel plants using coal, where a third of Store Norske's production usually goes. Arnestad said the company needs to reduce expenses 20 percent, up to 300 million kroner, which means reducing the current 400 employees to 360 this year and 250 by 2015. He said he hopes the reductions can occur through natural attrition, but "with fewer available jobs on the mainland there are not as many departures as we had expected."
Ancient cultural 'treasure' on walls of Ny-Ålesund house being restored
Heritage workers were surprised to find wall paintings in a Ny-Ålesund villa used by explorer Roald Amundsen during the 1920s. They include depictions of the race for the North Pole and folklore murals. The discovery will alter plans to restore the villa to how it was during Amundsen's stay, since the paintings appears to be from the latter part of the 1930s. The hope is to complete to project by May 2011, the 100-year-anniversary of Amundsen's conquest of the South Pole.
Svalbard church to be on TV series this winter
Four 30-minute TV programs featuring pastor Leif Magne Helgesen, with a focus on themes such as climate change and Christmas in the north, will be broadcast from Svalbard beginning Nov. 21 and ending during the international climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Planning is still underway, but filming may include a liturgy on the Nordsyssel vessel in October and a holiday visit to Hopen.
Research station from 1950s gets sanctuary protection
The Riksantikvaren research station in the north Svalbard nature reserve has been declared a sanctuary by the governor's office. A main building and nine smaller cabins were built in connection with the international geophysical year in 1957-58 and the designation is to protect the facility as an example of Arctic research from the period. Restoration work may also allow "careful" use for research and rescue work, the written decision states.
Wrecked ship still leaking oil, officials hoping for quick removal
A wrecked Russian ship on Bear Island has leaked an undetermined amount of fuel intermittently during the past week, according to the Norwegian Coast Guard, which is assisting a salvage company evaluate the site. The Petrosavodsk ran aground May 11 on the south side of the island, one of the world's most pristine bird sanctuaries. "The situation is serious and uncertain," a Norwegian Polar Institute researcher said, as leaks have occurred for weeks and appear to be increasing. The coast guard official said a crew to clean up diesel is at the site, but not been used so far, and hopes equipment to remove the vessel will be in place shortly.
Fish tales, photos sought from youths for contest
Local youths are being encouraged by the Longyearbyen Hunting and Fishing Association to enter a Norwegian photo competition, calling it an opportunity to develop family relationships and an appreciation for nature in Svalbard. "We hope the competition can get our kids to fish in the summer and that we can spin it into a broader experience later," said Karianne Steen, an association official. Photos can be submitted and voted on at Nettavisen.
Former Svalbard governor returning to post this fall
Odd Olsen Ingerø, 58, will return this fall as governor of Svalbard, a position he held from 2001-2005. He left to become head of Norway's criminal police department, part of a law enforcement career dating back to 1980. He replaces Per Sefland, who replaced Ingerø after his departure. Ingerø was selected ahead of three other candidates for the three-year term.
Delays in planning process for apartments frustrate builders
Frustration about the length of the planning process for new Haugen family apartments is being expressed by Store Norske officials, saying Longyearbyen's local governor board is making last-minute changes that are unrealistic and expensive. "It is hopeless for us to meet the demands of the local board when the plan is treated like this," said Håvar Fjerdingøy, the company's housing director. "They can not wait until the plan is completed to take initiatives. Contributions should come through in the process to avoid major delays."
Former Ny Ålesund resident wins top Norwegian jazz award
Finn Sletten, a drummer who spent his childhood in Ny Ålesund and regularly returns for performances in Longyearbyen, is the winner of this year's 15,000-kroner Stubøprisen, awarded to a significant contributor to jazz in northern Norway. He has played with a wide range of national and international musicians during his nearly 40-year career including Liv Mari Schei, Magni Wentzel, Terje Rypdal and Sidsel Endresen. He performed with Chipahua at Polarjazz earlier this year.
Nobody claiming responsibility for bird warning sign
A road sign near the dog kennels at the edge of Longyearbyen warning about the presence of birds was posted without permission and nobody is claiming responsibility for it, according to the Svalbard governor's office. Local officials endorsed a similar sign from the Longyearbyen Field Biology Society (LoFF) last year, but it was rejected by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. LoFF denies making or putting up the current sign.
Russians again seek to expand helicopter flights
Permission to expand Svalbard helicopter flights beyond mining operations in Barentsburg is being sought by Russian mining company Trust Arktikugol and flight operator Spark Plus. Russians have repeatedly taken up the issue of flights with Norwegian officials, saying restrictions imposed violate the Svalbard Treaty and appear more strict than those applied to Norwegian operators. An official with Norway's civil aviation authority declined to comment about the merits of the application since it is still under consideration, but said a recent court ruling where Russians were penalized for illegal helicopter flights will not be a factor in the decision.
Royal book about Svalbard coming this fall
Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark are collaborating on a book about their joint visit to Svalbard last year and Greenland this year. The book, with assistance from scientists from the leaders' countries, focuses on the experiences during their trips, climate change, and research and life in the Arctic. It is expected to be available in October.
Construction worker injured in site accident
A 28-year-old man working for LNS Spitsbergen was injured Wednesday afternoon when five roof supports fell off a block at a Elvesletta Syd construction site. A company official said the man received X-rays at Longyearbyen Hospital, but he does not appear to be seriously injured. The incident is being investigated by the Svalbard governor's office.
Assistant governor accidentally fires rifle in apartment; no injuries
A rifle shot Monday night in a Longyearbyen apartment turned out to be an accidental discharge by Asst. Gov. Lars Fausa. Fausa said he was preparing the rifle for a hunting trip and used the wrong cartridge while conducting a click test. A shot went through a table leg into the floor, but did not cause serious damage. He was alone at the time. Police have not seized the weapon so far, but Fausa said he is prepared to accept any consequences, which will likely include a fine for unsafe handling of firearms.
Magnitude 5.1 seabed quake occurs near Svalbard; no damage
An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale occurred in the ocean about 280 km southwest of Svalbard at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday. A NORSAR official said "is a relatively strong earthquake, but not uncommon in these areas" since there have been several with a magnitude of five or more during the past year.
Not all made it home after the party
Two men in Longyearbyen needed assistance getting home from police after the summer solstice beach party Saturday. One man at a house fell asleep in the bed of a 16-year-old girl, prompting her brother to call police, who said the man "was not aggressive or difficult" when they removed him. A second man found asleep the next morning on a scooter seat "was surprised that he had not come home."
Russian ship escorted to Longyearbyen for repairs
A Russian Coast Guard ship monitoring that country's fishing boats in Svalbard contacted Norwegian officials Friday after experiencing technical problems that were difficult to repair at sea. The Svalbard service vessel Nordsyssel escorted the Russian ship to Longyearbyen after it received diplomatic clearance. The repairs were completed within a few hours and the ship was escorted out of the 12-nautical-mile zone.
Helicopter rescue limits planned due to cost
Restrictions on when helicopters are deployed for rescues are planned by the Svalbard governor's office, citing an increase in missions that can cost up to 50,000 kroner. "There is a danger that people can take chances they otherwise would not have taken in the knowledge that we have a well-developed emergency rescue," said Sgt. Erik Nygaard, adding officials may have contributed to those expectations with their current practices. There have been 52 missions so far this year, compared to 72 in 2008 and 60 in 2007. Nygaard said "nobody has the right" to an automatic rescue and the safety of the crew must also be considered.
Politicians divided about future of coal at Svea
Mixed opinions about future Svea coal mining operations were voiced by Parliament members meeting Monday. Concerns about ensuring environmental protection remains the top policy priority and mining being a contributor to global warming came from Christian Democratic and Socialist Left members. Norwegian Labor and Centre party officials said mining is a vital economic base for keeping Svalbard a family-oriented community.
Parliament voices support for more UNIS funding
Funding needs to be increased at The University Centre In Svalbard, members of Parliament generally agreed during a session Monday. The endorsement is based on recommendations in the Svalbard long-term strategy plan released earlier this year. "It was a great moment to sit in Parliament and hear the consensus," said UNIS Director Gunnar Sand. "But I want to see money on the table before I think of it."
Injured and intoxicated tourist detained
Police took custody of a man at a house on Vei 219 who was drunk and injured Monday night after others at the location were unsuccessful restraining him. He was taken to Longyearbyen Hospital for stitches to a cut above his eye and returned to where he was staying. The incident was not formally reported.
Ski tourists rescued from northern Spitsbergen after pickup ship trapped by ice
Four skiers were evacuated Sunday by helicopter from Eolusneset after the tour ship scheduled to pick them up was trapped by ice. The group was in good condition, but didn't have supplies for a prolonged stay at the northeast edge of Spitsbergen. Trond Aagesen, Svalbard's police division chief, said changing ice conditions make scheduling tours difficult, but there is nothing to suggest operators are acting irresponsibly. Spitsbergen Travel Managing Director Trygve Steen said the company is looking at changes, including more western routes next year, to avoid such situations.
Change would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections
A proposal allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local board elections in 2011 will be considered Tuesday by the Longyearbyen local council. A number of municipalities have expressed interest in the experimental vote and teens whose permanent residence was in those cities before moving to Svalbard would be eligible to cast ballots here.
Classic Pizza returns to Longyearbyen
A familiar eatery is returning to Lompensenteret this weekend as Classic Pizza reopens on a limited basis, with full service expected to begin next month, Sam Ziaei, who owned the restaurant from 2001-06, is returning with his wife, Pat, and his brother, Essy. Ziaei said they will serve burgers on weekends until all of the restaurant's equipment arrives and is installed, allowing kabobs and pizza to be added to the menu.
Display honoring mining executive a bit of a bust
A bust of Robert Hermansen, a Norwegian industrial leader credited with a profitable overhaul of Store Norske while managing director from 1999-2008, will be unveiled next weekend outside the post office and bank building in the center of Longyearbyen. Only the company didn't tell city officials about it beforehand. A recent letter from an executive states "only now we have been made aware that it must be applied for to get bust placed, which applied for by this letter." The bust, made by sculptor Per Ung, will be on temporary display until being permanently relocated when the new cultural center is built.
Officials stage 'horror scenario' rescue drill
Rescuers tried to cope with a bus accident that injured 20 people and a distress signal from a Russian trawler with 17 people aboard at the same time during a rescue drill Thursday. About 20 people were involved in the exercise using ambulances, fire trucks, a helicopter and the Coast Guard vessel Svalbard.
Trapped Noorderlicht gets help from icebreaker
The Coast Guard ship Svalbard is coming to Tempelfjorden this week to break the Noorderlicht from the ice it has been stuck in since January. The vessel was scheduled to begin tourist voyages May 19, but operators now hope trips will be possible on or about June 21.
Helicopter may replace plane for Store Norsk's flights
Svalbard's mining company, Store Nosrk, may consider using lower-cost helicopters to transport employees between Longyearbyen, Svea and Ny Ålesund when its contract with Lufttransport ends next year.
Local singer among winners of national youth scholarship
Ingrid Brenli, 16, was among 100 students nationwide selected for a 10,000 NOK Drømme scholarship. She has been singing and in theater since the age of 2, and active on Longyearbyen stages for several years. She is planning to begin music theater studies this fall at Steinerskole, near the town of Drammen.
Man who fell through ice on Borebukta rescued
A man from the United Kingdom in his 20s fell through the ice on Borebukta while dogsledding June 3. Those who saw him fall called rescuers, who were able to lift him out within six minutes. He apparently escaped serious injury, but was transported to Longyearbyen Hospital for the night. None of the dogs fell through the ice.
Avalanche near Guesthouse 102 prompts warning
An avalanche above Guesthouse 102 June 3 has resulted in warning signs being posted at the request of the Svalbard governor's office. There are still crests on the hill, but a governor's official said there is "nothing dramatic in connection with the posting."
Commercial reindeer hunting permit denied
Trapper and fisherman Hans Lund's application for a commercial reindeer hunting quota has been denied by the Svalbard governor's office, who state he does not meet trapping station requirements because he plans to spend winters with his family on the mainland. "They take from us bread with the stroke of a pen," said Lund, adding half his income is from such activities.
Landmark coal facility to be demolished
A coal-processing plant that may be the only of its kind in the world will be demolished because it no longer has practical use, according to the Svalbard governor's office. Oppredningsverket ORV was built in the early 1960s, but the sorting and cleaning functions now take place at Mine 7. A lab at the building must be relocated before the facility is demolished. "We do not perceive that this has value as a cultural monument and will not start such a process," said Acting Environmental Chief Per Kyrre Reymert. "We want it to be removed as a pollution problem, not protected as cultural heritage."
Review of hunting rules sought by governor's office
Changes in traditional trapping activities and a lack of how to define the business of hunting are prompting the Svalbard governor's office to review the laws for such activities. The regulations were adopted many years ago and need to be updated to reflect current circumstances and environmental considerations, an official with the office said.
Three vying so far for governor's post
Odd Olsen IngerÝ, who stepped down as Svalbard's governor in 2005, is one of three candidates expressing an interest so far to replace Per Sefland when he departs later this year. Also interested is former Assistant Secretary Rune Bård Hansen and an unnamed female judge with Norway's Justice Department.
Noorderlicht stuck in ice, delayed to Longyearbyen
Nineteen tourists scheduled to participate in a sailing and snowshoeing trip aboard the Noorderlict are making other arrangements because the ship is stuck in the ice at Tempelfjorden. The ice is 50-60 cm thick and no icebreakers are available to assist the vessel. The group chartered the ship through Basecamp Spitsbergen, which is working to create an alternative tour.
A tough season so far for Spitsbergen Travel
Spitsbergen Travel's first-quarter revenues dropped from 39.7 million NOK last year to 28.3 million NOK this year, according to the company. It has a net loss this year of 800,000 NOK, compared to a 3.4 million NOK profit last year at this time. CEO Trygve Steen said no layoffs are planned at present, and believes the situation will stabilize and the company will show a profit by the end of the year. Other companies are also experiencing a tough season due to the global economic recession.
Injured woman rescued from Platåberget
A woman in her 30s was evacuated Monday by helicopter from Platåberget after slipping and injuring her foot. A companion was unable to bring her down the mountain on foot. She was brought to Longyearbyen Hospital, with the extent of her injury unknown.
Scooter driver study in valley river evacuated
A helicopter rescued a man on a snowscooter trapped by a river Sunday night in Kjellstrømdalen.
Man who lost license for drinking arrested again
A Longyearbyen man who lost his license last year for drinking while driving was arrested again Friday for driving without a license. He also failed a breath-alcohol check. Officials are investigating to determine what charges will be pressed.
Major changes coming to shopping center
A larger convenience store and an uncertain future for the Busen cafe are part of a large-scale renovation underway at Lompensenteret. The center section of the complex housing Busen's kitchen facilities are being revamped and new businesses sought to occupy the space. One confirmed change is Mix Isbjørnbutikken will double its space by moving from its current location in an adjacent building. Busen owners declined to comment on their future, but have a contract in the center until the end of the year.
Polar bear shot by researchers at Kinnvika
An international research team reported Sunday they shot a young male polar bear near a building at Kinnvika on Nordaustlandet. The Svalbard governor's office said they will investigate the incident.
Officials evacuate kayakers, find no alcohol violators on scooters
Two kayakers who failed to cross Hinlopenstretet were evacuated by helicopter Saturday, according to the Svalbard governor's office. Officials also reported they conducted 115 alcohol checks of snowscooter drivers Saturday at Longyearbreen with no violations.
Elimination of SAS night flights delays mail, newspapers
Scandinavian Airlines has eliminated its two night flights between Tromsø and Longyearbyen for May, with officials saying they are economically unsustainable. The cut means mail and newspapers will be delayed until the afternoon flight. Night service is scheduled to resume when cruise ship season begins in June.
Couple seeks commercial permit for year-round hunting at Kapp Linné
A couple hosting Isfjord radio during the daylight months at Basecamp on Kapp Linné is seeking a permit from the Svalbard governor's office to hunt a commercial quota of 20 reindeer plus other animals so they can stay there through the winter.
Two detained for illegal scootering on Larsbreen
Two young men from Longyearbyen were detained Wednesday by officers after skiers reported the pair was illegally operating snowscooters on Larsbreen. An official with the Svalbard governor's office said the youths can expect sanctions.
Seven on scooter trip found after search
Rescuers located six tourists and a guide during the early Tuesday morning hours after they were delayed for hours because they were unable to cross ice returning from a snowscooter trip to Svea. No injuries were reported.
Man arrested for drunk scooter driving in Barentsburg
Polar bear captures attention near airport
A mainland Norway man was arrested in Barentsburg after failing blood alcohol checks on Saturday, said officials who conducted more than 100 checks of snowmobile drivers. The man, seen drinking in a cafe before getting on his scooter, was taken by helicopter to Longyearbyen. Two other drivers received warnings during the checks.
A polar bear wandering within a few hundred yards of Hotellneset on was spotted by cottage dwellers, a busload of tourists and others Friday. The bear, which witnesses said is tagged, remained on the sea ice about 200 to 500 meters from land before disappearing out of sight in the Bjørndalen area.
Hurtigruten cancellation to affect hundreds of summer passengers
A decision not to bring the Nordstjernen ferry to Spitsbergen this summer means hundreds of passengers will have their trips here altered or cancelled, officials said. Hurtigruten is extending an agreement to use the vessel in Italy through July. Officials will try to rebook passengers on another ship sailing in the area, but estimate only there is only room for 40 percent of the 500 passengers affected. Alternate bookings to Greenland, Antarctica and the Norwegian coast will also be offered.
Unity theme of May Day war memorial gathering
While May Day was marred in some European cities by protests about the global recession, unity between those with past disagreements was the theme for about 40 people gathered at the Skæringa war memorial in Longyearbyen. A local issue of emphasis was the coal mining industry working to develop respect among government and university entities that have often been hostile to their operations.
Permanent environmental chief finally named
Guri Tveito, 49, Norway's director of food policy, will become the head of Svalbard's environmental ministry this fall. A longtime environmental policy manager, she said she has never been to Svalbard, but called her new job "incredibly exciting, in an environment where the government has a high level of ambition." Temporary appointees have filled the position since 2007.
Tax return deadline day relatively quiet
A steady stream of people filed last-minute tax returns on April 30, but few sought assistance compared to past years, an tax agency official said. It appears more people are taking time to learn a new form and fill it out themselves.
Six fail snowscooter sobriety checks
Six of 172 people were prohibited from driving snowscooters during the weekend when breath tests showed blood-alcohol levels above 0.2 percent, officials said. Those failing the checkpoint tests had not started out on trips and were required to sit as passengers with other drivers.
Ice traps cargo ship in Longyearbyen
The cargo ship Norbjørn is trapped by ice in Longyearbyen and awaiting assistance from the Coast Guard ship Svalbard, according to officials. The Svalbard is expected to arrive Saturday, allowing the cargo ship to reach Tromsø by Tuesday and return to Longyearbyen at the beginning of May.
Polar bear moved after troubling weather station
A polar bear was tranquilized and relocated Friday after bothering residents at the Hopen meteorological station for several days. The young bear came to the station several times a day looking for food in the dog yard, displaying aggressive behavior toward the dogs, and attempts to intimidate the bear with gunshots were unsuccessful. The bear was tagged for tracking, moved by helicopter to Edgeøya and placed near a reindeer carcus as an immediate food source.
Warming may help company ship coal over the Arctic
Store Norske is considering shipping coal through the Arctic Ocean, as climate change is expected to place Longyearbyen along a major new international shipping route. Five years ago it was estimated commercial traffic over the North Pole would be possible by 2090; estimates now say it may be possible between 2010 and 2015.
Dead dogs in garbage causing trouble
Only diesel pump broken, repairs expected quickly
Two dead dogs were found in separate disposal containers last week, causing mechanical and health problems at Longyearbyen's waste facility, an official there said. He said it is a recurring problem and dead animals are supposed to be brought to the facility during operational hours for proper disposal.
The hose for the lone diesel pump at Longyearbyen's gas station has been has been broken since Wednesday. A manager said a replacement was flown in Thursday and repairs should be made Friday. Vehicles in dire need are getting fuel siphoned directly from the supply tank.
Court fines Russians 50,000 NOK for flights in protected nature area
The Russian mining company Trust Arktikugol was fined 50,000 NOK by a court in Nord-Troms on Tuesday for making helicopter flights in 2007 to a protected Svalbard nature area without permission from Norwegian authorities.
Weekend of incidents keeps officials busy
A woman who broke her arm while snowscootering and several incidents of trouble kept Longyearbyen officials busy this weekend. Among the incidents were a man walking on potentially dangerous sea ice near the airport, multiple illegal high-tracking scooter marks in the Endalen area, two scooter drivers who failed alcohol-level checks and a scooter that caught fire on Fritham.
Hot air balloons and more hover this weekend
A celebration of 100 years of Arctic aviation began Thursday in Longyearbyen, with hot air balloon trips over Adventdalen, paragliding and other events planned until Sunday. Anniversary events are also scheduled Saturday at the Svalbard Museum and Spitsbergen Airship Museum.
Twice as many rescues so far this year
Two Spanish skiers with frostbite were rescued Thursday from the 1,200-meter Trebrepasset plateau, the 38th mission this year, officials said. There have been twice as many rescues in 2009 compared to this time last year, but officials do not know if weather or an increase in expeditions is the cause.
Long-term Svalbard plan OKs continuing coal mining
A "white paper" detailing Norway's long-term policy for Svalbard says coal mining is essential and should continue in an environmentally responsible manner, but does not get into operational specifics of the region's dominant industry. The report also states Longyearbyen has become a much more diverse community during the past decade, another area where environmental impacts must be closely watched.
Five skiers evacuated from Lomonosovfonna
Five skiers were evacuted by helicopter Wednesday from Lomonosovfonna because they were excessively cold and wet, including one suffering from frostbite. A sixth member of the trip was evacuated during the weekend due to illness.
Snowmobile takes trip of its own, hits baby nursery
A snowscooter took off and hit the wall of the Kullungen baby nursery Wednesday after its owner started it. Damage to the wall did not appear to be serious. A police official said such incidents can happened when the scooter's gas freezes.
UNIS student OK after being trapped in avalanche
A 20-year-old man was caught in an avalanche on Longyear Glacier on Monday while he and three other University Centre In Svalbard students were descending on foot from Nordenskiöldfjellet, rescue officials said. He remained on top of the slide and was uninjured, but the students were evacuated due to the effects of the cold. They were not wearing transmitters and did not have digging equipment. Avalanche danger is expected to remain high for the rest of the season.
Rescue crews busy during Easter weekend
Several groups were rescued from various locations during bad weather the day before Easter. They included crew members of the Vegabond cut off from their ship in Inglefieldbukta and tour groups stranded due to illness or injuries. A few people were hospitalized with non-critical ailments.
Injured bear, attempted scooter theft during brilliant weekend
Snowscooter drives are deliberately distrubing polar bears on Tempelfjorden, according to reports received by the Svalbard governor's office. Such activity is illegal and officials are investigating the claims using the scooters' registration information.
Five rescued from wind-ravaged Camp Morton
Two guides and three tourists were rescued by helicopter after sending out a radio distress signal Tuesday afternoon when their tent camp was destroyed by winds. The group dug snow caves, but was unable to keep the entrance open due to the wind. One person was hospitalized with frostbite.
Injured bear, attempted scooter theft during brilliant weekend
A polar bear with an injured foot was spotted on Tempelfjorden by tourists during sunny and cold weekend, according to police. Officers also intervened Sunday morning when three men apparently tried to steal a snowmobile at Lompensenteret.
Snafu sends pub's credit card charges to Sweden
Customers at the Radisson SAS Polar Hotel's restaurant and pub got an alarming surprise when their credit cards were billed to a Pizza Hut in Sweden, causing some to block their cards fearing fraud. A hotel manager said the wrong account number was programmed into a new payment system, which has been corrected, and no customers were charged extra amounts.
Student drawings to be featured in policy report
Local youths Fredrik Lund, Alona Kulyk and Anne Ragnhild Fause were selected as the winners of a competion for drawings to be included in the Norwegian government's updated long-term policy report for Svalbard, scheduled for release after Easter.
Initial attempt to revive old power plant promising
Longyearbyen's old power plant, idle since 1983, was fired up again for an hour April 1 as Bydrift determines if the plant's furnaces can be used as an extra power source. The smoke pipe worked fine, but technical problems with the steam boilers must still be resolved. The plant might be revived if funding for another backup source is not available.
Explosives used to cut avalance risk after slide
Officials detonated explosives Tuesday on the crest of Nybyen near Mine 2B, one day after a large avalanche blocked the rock to Nybyen. Nobody was trapped in the slide, but it destroyed an aerial ropeway structure by the mine that was a cultural monument.
Nature guide program gets 1 million kroner
A program to promote envionmentally responsible tourism, training up to 20 participants as guides, will begin this fall after receiving 1 million kroner from Norway's ministry of trade and industry. Classes will be in English at the University Centre in Svalbard.
Svalbard governor, two first lieutenants departing
Sysselmann Per Sefland, governor of Svalbard since October 2005, is voluntarily leaving office this fall, with officials hoping to name a replacement after Easter. The two longest-serving lieutenants, Petter Braaten and Roar Mordal Hilde, are also leaving before the end of summer.
Missing snowmobile drivers found
Four missing snowmobile drivers were found and helicoptered to safety from Svea Nord on Thursday, officials said. All were in good condition.
17 enviornmental projects selected for funding
Studying the effects of Arctic nature guiding, helping local government with the environmental certification process and several youth programs were among 17 initiatives selected this week to share 4.4 million kroner this week from Svalbard's Environment Fund.
Seed vault wins award
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was named Plant Of 2008 by ByggeGallaen at its Consturction Week convention Wednesday in Oslo. Jurors cited the vault's operational organization and importance on a worldwide scale in selecting it over two other finalists.
Two skiers rescued, one hospitalized with frostbite
Two Polish men were rescued Wednesday by helicopter from Bromelldalen after sending a radio signal. One was hospitalized with moderate frostbite.
Cargo ship delayed by ice
The Norbjørn, carrying scientific equipment and food, will not arrive Monday as scheduled due to ice up to 70 cm thick in Adventfjorden. Cold weather during the next 10 days may cause further delays.
New administrator named
Ivar Undheim, chief administrative officer for the municipality of Klepp, was named the new administrator of Longyearbyen Lokalstyre on Tuesday. He will serve a six-year term.
Continuing coal operations
The government, due to update its long-term policy, says coal operations should continue on Svalbard so Longyearbyen can remain a family community with broad activity.
Two hurt in snomobile incidents
Two people were hospitalized in seperate incidents Saturday, officials said, but neither was seriously injured.
Girl found dead in studio
A 17-year-old girl found dead Friday in the studio she lived in apparently committed suicide, an official said.
Climate change declared biggest threat to polar bears
A declaration resulting from a three-day conference in Tromsø is surprising in its clarity about the threat of global warming, according to international officials at the event.
Heavy snow in Tromsø delays Svalbard flights
The plane from Oslo to Longyearbyen failed to land to pick up passengers and goods in Tromsø on Wednesday. Its arrival in Longyearbyen was delayed by a few hours, but poor weather is not expected to further delay its departure.
Tromsø meeting about polar bears closed to public
Norwegian Environmental Minister Erik Solheim apologized while explaining part of the international polar bear conference that began in Tromsø on Tuesday is closed to the press and observers.
Polar bear in Hiorthhamn
A bear was chased from the Hiorthhamn fjord early Tuesday. An official said poor weather is making the animals hard to spot.
Man killed in avalanche accident on Hiorthfjell
A 30-year-old man died Sunday after being trapped in an avalanche for about 45 minutes.
Polar bear invades camp
A polar bear seen at Diabas heading in the direction of Longyearbyen was chased away by officials Saturday.
Businesses may need environmental certification
Longyearbyen Lokalstyre has applied to Svalbard's Environmental Fund for money to do an environmental analysis of the city's businesses.
GPS maps for Svalbard appear to be coming
Digital maps from the Norwegian Polar Institute for GPS receivers may be on sale in Longyearbyen within a few weeks.
The youths who appeared at the Solfestuka talent show this week took the audience and jury by storm.
Verifying ships by satellite
The government is considering introducing automatic ship identification via satellite (AIS) for shipping on Svalbard.
Fun and games with a sledge and paste
It was full speed in the Arctic on the sledging hill below the Radisson Polar SAS hotel on Thursday. Inside the library, there was also activity.
Avalanches in Fardal
A warning about avalanche danger in Fardal was issued after a slide Wednesday.
Fire causes minor damage at Sandmo & Svenkeruds
An employee arriving early at work kept the damage from being worse, according to one official.
Polar bears roaming near Longyearbyen
Polar bears have turned up in the area around Longyearbyen the past few days, says chief officer on duty sysselmann Petter Braaten.
Charting snowmobile traffic
Researchers at the University Centre In Svalbard will determine how many snowmobiles run through Todalen and Fardal.
Earthquake off Svalbard
An earthquake measured at 6.4 on the Richter scale was recorded Friday in the sea between Svalbard and Greenland.
Helicopter issue on trial
A trial starts Monday against Russian Trust Arktikugol in Longyearbyen for the illegal helicopter flight in summer 2007.
Small bear roams unafraid in Barentsburg
Citizens in Barentsburg have for days been plagued by a polar bear, which cannot be frightened.
A blast surveying the glaciers
From next week the University Centre In Svalbard will start seismic surveys south of Van Mijenfjorden, in cooperation with the University of Bergen. During the four weeks the survey will run to over 13 tons of detonating fuse to be blown on glaciers in Nathorst Area, the area between Van Mijenfjorden and Van Keulenfjorden.
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