Infrastructure in the Reykjanes Peninsula needs to undergo major reinforcements and expansions as soon as possible in order to prevent major disturbances during a possible volcanic eruption, RÚV reports. Jon Gunnarsson, Iceland’s minister of justice, who also oversees civil defense issues, says current building regulations, such as conducting environmental assessments and accepting bids from a range of contractors, may need to be circumvented to ensure that infrastructure improvements can be made in a fashionable fashion.
The Reykjan Peninsula is still subject to earthquake. Last week, MET reported that 14 earthquakes of M3.0 or greater were detected. Most of these events have occurred on the peninsula, which experiences earthquake swarms due to uplift at Svartsinge Power Plant and Mount Orbjorn. This altitude was confirmed by GPS sensors and satellite images. The largest earthquake in Reykjanes at the time of writing was M3.5, on May 18. Another M3.2 earthquake occurred north of Þorbjörn on Sunday. According to the Met, seismic disturbances on the peninsula increase the likelihood of a major earthquake (M6.0 – M6.5) in the Brennisteinsfjöll Mountains. There is also a risk of landslides due to strong earthquakes near the Eldvörp crater row.
Hot water and electricity serve 30,000 people at risk
Civil Defense representatives attended the cabinet meeting on Friday and reviewed various explosion scenarios. Of particular concern is the infrastructure in Reykjanes that manages the production of hot and cold water, as well as electricity, for 30,000 people.
The land around Þorbjörn has risen four centimeters since the end of April, and it is clear that the Svartsengi power plant, the main energy producer on the peninsula, may be in danger if there is a volcanic eruption in the area. As such, John believes it is important to have alternative water sources ready for the residents of the area. “We need to find new water sources and build a new heat exchange system somewhere else, so we can be sure that we can supply enough hot water. And in my opinion, we need to speed up the construction of Suðurneslína 2. ” (Suðurneslína 2 is a power line It has long been discussed extending from all over Grindavík to the outskirts of Hafnarfjörður.)
A cost evaluation has yet to be done for John’s proposed infrastructure enhancements, but he says the investment is worth regardless. “It would be much cheaper for us to try to intervene now as quickly as possible; it would take some time.”
Construction projects like this usually have to proceed according to a set of standing regulations, namely accepting bids for multiple projects and undertaking an environmental assessment. “I think we were trying to get it [Suðurneslína 2] For at least ten years, “John commented. I think we have to step in here – this is an urgent issue and it is important to protect the well before disaster strikes. We may need to push these regulations aside and prioritize building additional infrastructure and well headers that we can then integrate into utility systems our own if something happened in Svartsinghe to impede its operations.”
“The sooner we get to work, the better”
After the eruption at Fagradalsfjall, experts at the University of Iceland, Met and engineering firm Efla were commissioned to assess the infrastructure at Reykjanes and suggest measures to protect it from lava flows near Grindavík and Svartsengi. The final report is not yet ready but will include potential origin points and lava flow measurements.
RÚV obtained an overview of the pending report, the main conclusion of which is said to be that there is a need for new infrastructure, utility systems and transportation systems in the region. This conclusion is supported by the knowledge that if a volcanic eruption is to begin in specific areas, there will be little time to enact protection measures, as many potential eruption sites are located very close to important existing infrastructure.
“The faster we try to act and make decisions about this, the better,” John concluded. “I think we need to operationalize this as quickly as possible – and this is a reminder to us about what’s going on out there, and we have to take this very seriously.”
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