Ever since its discovery in 2003, the German submarine “U-864” has been a huge topic of contention on the Westland island of Fedje.
Both action groups and large sections of the local population have for years wanted the authorities to raise the submarine.
The vessel contains 67 tonnes of mercury, which is slowly seeping out onto the seabed. according to the government 47,000 square meters of the area around the wreck is now contaminated.
In the last 20 years, on the other hand, several expert groups and other government bodies have believed that it would be better to cover the submarine. The fear is that elevation could destroy the mercury bottles and pollute the environment.
This is the recommendation
Now have a new one expert committee reached its conclusionand there they write that the Nazi submarine should be covered up.
However, they want to raise the mercury load in advance.
– The fact that we conclude differently from what has been done in the past is based on updated socio-economic assessments and risk assessments, says head of the expert committee, Gro Kielland.
She says that the operation should be technically and environmentally feasible.
Kielland says people and the business world’s security has weighed heavily in the assessments.
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran hopes the report can contribute to the years-long saga coming to an end soon – for all parties.
– It is important for the government to choose a solution that is safe for the environment and the population. I take seriously the unrest people on Fedje and along the Westland coast have lived with for many years because of this case, says Skjæran.
The report will now be submitted for consultation for three months. In the last instance, any decision must be taken in the Storting.
TV 2 was sitting next to Fedje mayor Stian Herøy (H) when he received the message about the expert committee’s conclusion.
He is very pleased that the committee will remove the mercury, and now hopes that the government will keep its promises and carry out the clean-up operation.
– I hope this is the end of the whole matter, and that they manage to remove the mercury. We would not have had peace if there had not been a final solution with removal here, says Herøy.
He says the mercury submarine has caused years of great uncertainty and fear for the tiny island community, which throughout history has fed on the sea itself.
– Now I just hope they take this proposal into the national budget and make everyone happy, he says.
Back and forth
It was on 9 February 1945 that the German submarine “U-864” was sunk by the British submarine HMS Venturer, just four kilometers outside Fedje.
In 2003, news came from the Norwegian authorities that it had been found, and that a cargo with large quantities of mercury was suspected.
When investigations showed that it contained as much as 67 tonnes of the substance, a fierce discussion was set in motion at Fedje, which over the past 20 years has spread all the way up to the highest decision-making body in the Storting.
In addition to the mercury, the submarine contains a couple of tonnes of TNT explosives.
While several ministers have come and gone, a number of expert committees have concluded and reversed the issue of whether the submarine should be raised or covered.
It is this recommendation that is now ready.
– Enormously long battle
Most of the inhabitants of the island want the boat and the mercury to be removed, even if this means a risk of the bottles being destroyed and the substance being spread over large areas of the seabed.
– This has been an enormously long battle. So long that it almost makes you lose heart, says Reidun Dagmar Moldøen (83), who is one of the founders of the action group on the island.
She has been fighting since the start in 2003 for elevation.
– The submarine must be removed, once and for all, she says in frustration.