Many people took advantage of the Longyearbyen Community Council's trash amnesty program. So far this year, 196 snowmobiles and 28 cars have been brought to the waste facility and shipped to the mainland by boat.
"We have also noticed some scooters that will be removed when it is possible to drag them out of the way," said Einar Olsen, an operations engineer for the city. "And then there are surely more cars and scooters that we do not know about yet."
The city received money earlier this year from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund to implement the amnesty program for junked vehicles. People can hand over their cars and scooters to the waste facility for free as long as the 250,000-kroner grant lasts.
"There is still money left for more," Olsen said "We have not written up many of our own expenses on the project. This is a great thing to do for the environment."
He said some people have brought in the snowmobiles themselves, both as individuals and businesses, while city workers have been out and marked more than 70 scooters they suspected were no longer operable.
"We have looked up the owners and tried to get a hold of them to see if we can dispose of the snowmobiles," Olsen said. "Twenty scooters have been removed and some we did not get picked up during the summer. In addition, some owners we have not gotten a hold of are not living in Norway. We must have authorization before we can remove the vehicles."
Five cars were collected by the waste plant's loader.
"In particular, many scooter owners have been pleased that the snowmobiles are being collected," Olsen said. "The cars have been more difficult to get a hold of the owners about, since many are living abroad."
Good for tourism
Ronny Brunvoll, director of Visit Svalbard, said he is very glad about the cleanup effort initiated by the city.
"We are in the planning process for a sustainable businesses and struggling a bit with credibility since it looks a bit messy out," he said. "Everything in this respect helps with that. It's very, very gratifying."
He said he knows many people are concerned about how it looks outside.
"It is positive that they are getting out the worst," he said.
Fewer wrecked vehicles dumped
Landowner Store Norske has also noticed a marked difference.
"We have recorded fewer wrecked snowmobiles dumped at Hotellneset," said Per Christian Frøislie, the company's property manager. "There were a few this year, but fewer than before."
Because the amnesty option exists, there's no longer any reason for people to dump or abandon their wrecks, he added.
"But there are some who do not realize that it is free to dispose of them and they spend considerable resources on removing the chassis number," Frøislie said. "We find them anyway."
Store Norske has also conducted a review of its land to ensure it is cleared.
"We have found things left standing and sent the message to the owners when we find something that we believe they should deliver it to the waste facility," Frøislie said.
"This has been done both last year and this year, but we have sent fewer letters than before."
Frøislie said he hopes the amnesty program for vehicles continues and the environmental fund continues supporting it.
It usually costs 722 kroner to get rid of a scooter. A car that is first registered on Svalbard cost 4,334 kroner, while a vehicle originally registered on the mainland costs 2,023 kroner since the vehicle scrap deposit on it is part of the registration.
Olsen said he hopes more people will take advantage of the program if they have vehicles that are not being used.
"It costs nothing," he said.
This is the second round of the city's trash amnesty program. A total of 57 cars and 64 scooters were turned in during the first round. Overall, therefore, 60 snowmobiles and 85 cars have been removed from the island.
Translated by Mark Sabbatini