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Monthly Archives: June 2008 − News & Stories


Start of summer season 2008

Early and mid June sees the onset of the arctic “high summer”. The summer tourist has begun, and the first ships have already arrived Longyearbyen. An extraordinary amount of snow has fallen during the past winter and spring; locals say that they have never seen so much snow before. In Longyearbyen at sea level, most of the snow has melted by now (10 June), but in many places, there is still a lot of snow at sea level (which on the other hand is not so uncommon at this season).

The ice situation seems to be “better” than in 2006 or 2007 in that sense that there seems to be more sea ice this year. Northern and eastern parts of the archipelago are still mostly surrounded by drift ice, and it will be interesting to follow the development throughout the summer. In recent years, even the northeasternmost parts of Svalbard were accessible as early as late June/early July.

Snow-rich early summer. Early June, Trygghamna.

Start of summer season 2008

Ice chart as of 09 Juni 2008 (© Norwegian Meteorological Institute)

Ice chart as of 09 Juni 2008

Hurray! Start of season soon!

Hurray! Start of season soon!

The PCB-project is making progress

In 2007, concentrations of the long-lived environmental toxin PCBs higher than expected have been found in and near the settlements in Spitsbergen. Building materials (paint, concrete) and electrical parts seem to be major sources. The highest values were found in the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden. PCBs from these local sources have already been found in the bottom sediments in the near-by fjords.

Both Russian and Norwegian authorities have apparently already made some progress in removing the dangerous materials. Almost 1000 electrical parts (condensators from lighting installations) have already been removed, and another 2000 is to follow as soon as replacement parts have arrived. These are said to be on the way already. It is also announced that in Pyramiden, which was abandoned in 1998, all relevant parts will soon be completely removed.

All contaminated materials will be shipped to Longyearbyen and from there to the mainland for disposal in Finland as part of the general Norwegian garbage management system.

In the Norwegian settlements and stations (Isfjord Radio, Longyearbyen, Ny Ålesund and Sveagruva), samples were taken from soil, paint and other materials to identify PCB sources. Known sources have already been removed. The aim is to remove all materials containing PCBs within a short time frame.

Lighting in Barentsburg.

Source: Sysselmannen

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