Planning for a safe route for visitors at the eruption site

Work is being done to be able to open access …

Work is being done to be able to open access for people who want to see the eruption from a safe place. Photo/Hörður Kristleifsson

The Icelandic Tourist Board leads a workgroup that has the task of preparing facilities for those who want to view the volcanic eruption in Sundhnúkagígar crater row, where one crater is erupting.

The idea is to open an area near Svartsengi with access through Grindavíkurvegur road on the eastern side. Contracts are underway with land owners and if they are completed, the workgroup plans to make a parking space for those who want to witness the eruption. Visitors will be charged for access to the parking space.

The idea is to make parking spaces east of Grindavíkurvegur …

The idea is to make parking spaces east of Grindavíkurvegur road, but the exact location has not been revealed. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Want to guide people to safe places

Dagbjartur Brynjarsson, a specialist in safety at the Icelandic Tourist Board, is the chair of the working group. It consists of representatives from Grindavík town, the Environment Agency, the South Iceland Police, the Landsbjörg Rescue Team, and the Regional Development Agency for the Reykjanes peninsula.

Brynjarsson says that the idea is that this way, tourists can be guided to safe places so that they are not subjected to a risk of the eruption or flowing magma. He says that so far it hasn’t been a big problem that people have gone to the current eruption without permission. There are some examples of that, even though the area has been officially closed to traffic.

He says that the place that will ultimately be chosen to watch the eruption needs to have easy access for first responders.

“As it is, we think the best place is on Grindavíkurvegur road close to Svartsengi,” he concludes.

Dagbjartur Brynjarsson.

Dagbjartur Brynjarsson. Photo/Sent to mbl.is

Don’t reveal the location right away

He says that there are still some things to be considered. Gas meters have not been set up to measure gas pollution exactly at the location of the project. He also says that exactly where the location is will not be published for safety reasons.

“If we give ourselves 100 people in 50 cars now, Grindavíkurvegur road has been blocked. That’s why parking spaces need to be made in the area so people can be accommodated,” he says.

He continues saying that the project is being done simultaneously with cost estimation, contracts with land owners, designing car parks and walking paths.

“There needs to be measures and a label for the area where everything is fine. Because even if we say it’s okay to come and see the site, it doesn’t mean we give the green light to just go anywhere.”

It will not be possible to rely on rescue workers, …

It will not be possible to rely on rescue workers, as they have been under a lot of pressure for months now. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Not possible to increase pressure on responders

He says that it is expected that the preparation and working on the site will take a considerable amount of time. Parking will be increased. This is especially important because it will not be possible to rely solely on emergency responders, as they have been under pressure in connection with fires in the area.

“Somehow, it needs to be funded. It’s a job to create a parking space, and work on making hiking trails and things like that. It might be possible to get a grant from the destinations’ development fund, but it’s still a job to do. We expect that parking charges will have to be put in place.”

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