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Historical archive

The wreck of the “Murmansk”

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs

- The Government takes seriously the concerns of the inhabitants of Sørvær about the wreck of the Murmansk. The Government will therefore continue surveying the wreck with the objective of removing it, confirmed Norwegian Fisheries and Coastal Minister Helga Pedersen. On Thursday the Minister is visiting Sørvær to listen to the local community and inform them about the on-going work.

- The Government takes seriously the concerns of the inhabitants of Sørvær about the wreck of the Murmansk. The Government will therefore continue surveying the wreck with the objective of removing it, confirmed Norwegian Fisheries and Coastal Minister Helga Pedersen. On Thursday the Minister is visiting Sørvær to listen to the local community and inform them about the on-going work.

- The inhabitants of Sørvær are currently subject to considerable uncertainty and concern. The population of Hasvik must have the best possible reassurance as to whether or not there is environmentally hazardous waste on board and whether the wreck poses a risk of pollution and potential impacts on the surrounding environment and health, Helga Pedersen says.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) have taken measurements to map out any possible radioactivity onboard the Murmansk. The Institute of Marine Research has collected samples from the seabed and from fish and shellfish, which will provide information about the presence of PCBs, heavy metals and other environmental toxins in the area surrounding the wreck. All the results of these investigations will be published as soon as they are ready and the inhabitants of Sørvær will then have many of their questions answered.

- I have been in close contact with the mayor of Hasvik about this matter. The inhabitants of Sørvær are worried about the extent to which the wreck has affected their health and local environment. Even though there is no documentary evidence that the wreck constitutes a risk to health, we must take seriously the unease and uncertainty the population feels about the issue. The concerns are deep-felt and, regardless of the outcome of the on-going investigations, the local community will not be at ease until the wreck is dealt with appropriately, says the Minister.

The Minister has issued an invitation to a public meeting in Sørvær on Thursday 14 August at 11:30.
- I will be accompanied by experts who will be able to answer many of the inhabitants' questions, both regarding potential health and environmental risks and about what has already been done and what further action will be taken, states the Minister. The mayor of Hasvik, Eva Husby, will also be present at the meeting.

In the NCA's 2006 report on wrecks, 5 of the 30 wrecks investigated have been prioritised for further action. The report is based on an overall assessment of the potential risk of pollution affecting the environment and human activity, the location of the wrecks, and known and estimated volumes of oil present.  The NCA has recently evacuated oil from the wreck of the Nordvard in the harbour of Moss, and the Welheim close to Florø will be evacuated in late summer. The NCA has recommended closer investigation of the wrecks of the Boardale in Vesterålen, and the Erich Giese and the Neuenfels in Narvik, and their possible evacuation of oil in 2010 if the investigations so dictate. The Government is currently also considering how to best manage the environmental risk relating to the mercury aboard the U-864 off Fedje.

In accordance with the “Polluter Pays Principle”, the Government will also clarify the extent to which the owner of the wreck or other responsible body can be held liable for the clean-up costs relating to the Murmansk.

Contact: Press Centre: 0047 22 24 66 99

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