Two Hospitalised After Gas-Station Explosion in Reykjavík

Gas station

Capital region firefighters were dispatched following an explosion at an Olís gas station in Reykjavík shortly before 2:30 PM today. Two individuals were transported to the emergency room.

Fire department received numerous calls

At just before 2.30 PM today, the capital region fire brigade was dispatched after receiving numerous calls concerning an explosion at the Olís gas station in Álfheimar, Reykjavík.

Duty officer Sveinbjörn Berentsson told Vísir that it was clear that “considerable force” had been involved in the explosion, given the number of phone calls. The explosion occurred at a methane pump, and firefighters began by blocking the flow of gas from the pump, as well as attending to two people injured in the explosions. They were taken to the emergency room.

Sveinbjörn was unable to comment on the extent of their injuries. Two nearby cars were damaged by the blast, and the windshield of a third vehicle was broken.

The area has been cordoned off, and the scene is being investigated by the police and the labour inspectorate. Sveinbjörn Berentsson told Vísir that such explosions are “uncommon,” adding that he had never witnessed anything like this himself.

Explosion in Álfheimar

Inbreeding Could Pose Threat to White-Tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle Haförn Hafernir

The Icelandic white-tailed eagle could be threatened by genetic homogeneity and inbreeding, a new article in the journal Molecular Ecology notes. The eagle’s fertility is one-third that of its Scandinavian cousins.

Icelandic and Greenlandic eagles genetically more homogeneous than their cousins

A study of the Icelandic white-tailed eagle and its cousins ​​is reported on in an article that was recently published in the scientific journal Molecular Ecology. Among other things, the authors of the study processed blood samples from Icelandic eaglets that had been collected since the turn of the century.

Professor Snæbjörn Pálsson at the University of Iceland managed the project. He told RÚV that Greenlandic and Icelandic eagles differ from their cousins ​​in the Nordic countries, mainly because of how genetically homogeneous they are and also because there are indications that the Icelandic eagle suffers from inbreeding.

As noted in the article: “island populations may suffer from low genetic variation, and thus be more prone to inbreeding depression or extinction, both due to founder effect bottlenecks during colonization and as a result of increased genetic drift in small isolated populations.”

Sveinbjörn explained to RÚV that this low genetic variation on the islands, especially in Iceland, could explain why fertility rates of the white-tailed eagle in Iceland are very low, or approximately one-third of the fertility rates of its cousins in Scandinavia.

READ MORE: Eagle Empire from the Iceland Review magazine

The Icelandic white-tailed eagle was almost eradicated by Icelanders during the 20th century. It was protected in 1914, but the population subsequently grew slowly; rates of population growth have, however, slightly improved after the practice of leaving out poisoned carcasses to kill off Arctic foxes was banned in 1964. The population of white-tailed eagles in Iceland now numbers approximately ninety pairs.

“Nevertheless, fertility rates are low compared to white-tailed eagles in mainland Europe,” an article on the website of the University of Iceland from last December notes.

Inbreeding could be detrimental to the eagle

Inbreeding within the eagle population could also serve to increase the risk of harmful mutations taking hold and causing harm to the population. This also makes the eagle less capable of adapting to changes such as new diseases, changes in prey, climate, temperature, and more.

Professor Snæbjörn Pálsson told RÚV that the next step in the research would be examining individual genes in the eagle’s genome: “Examining genes related to the breakdown of toxins, for example. Persistent organic toxins are known to have a negative impact on the life expectancy of white-tailed eagles in the twentieth century,” Snæbjörn observed.

More Icelanders in Favour of EU Membership Than Against

Danish Embassy

More people are in favour of Iceland joining the European Union than opposed, according to a new survey conducted by Maskína, RÚV reports. The result is consistent with another survey conducted by Gallup last year.

Surveyed attitudes since 2011

More people are in favour of Iceland joining the European Union than against, according to a new survey that Maskína – a research company based in Reykjavík – conducted for Evrópuhreyfingin (i.e. the European Movement), RÚV reports. A total of 40.8% of respondents stated that they were in favour of membership, while 35.9% stated that they were against it. More than a fifth of the respondents were undecided.

This is the first time that a survey conducted by Maskína – which began measuring the nation’s attitude towards EU membership in 2011 – in which a greater number of respondents stated that they supported rather than opposed membership to the EU.

The survey was conducted between February 3 and February 7, and there were 1,036 respondents. The survey was submitted to participants via Maskína’s Þjóðgátt (i.e. national portal), which randomly selects respondents from the National Register.

As noted by RÚV, Gallup also surveyed the nation’s attitude towards EU membership in March of last year, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In that survey, the number of proponents also outnumbered opponents. The difference then was even more decisive than that of the latest Maskína survey.

Record Number of Icelanders Travelled Abroad in January

Icelandair cabin crew

The number of Icelanders who departed from Keflavík Airport in January was 41,500. Never before have so many Icelanders flown abroad in January, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.

“We’re on the right track”

As noted in a press release from the Icelandic Tourist Board on Friday, 121,000 foreign passengers departed from Iceland in January. This is roughly equivalent to the number of departures in January 2020 and about 82% of foreign departures in January 2018, when numbers were at their peak.

In an interview with Fréttablaðið on Saturday, Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, Director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, stated that Iceland was “on the right track” in terms of demand. “It’s shaping up to be a good year in tourism because the low season, right now, in the middle of winter, has been promising. It seems to be similar to 2018, and it looks like it will be a very good summer,” Jóhannes remarked.

Almost half of the departing passengers were British and Americans. These nationalities have composed, by far, the most numerous group of people arriving in January over the last two decades, or since measurements began, the Icelandic Tourist Board noted.

The press release also noted that 41,500 Icelanders departed from Keflavík Airport in January. Never before have so many Icelanders flown abroad in January. Among those destinations that Icelanders have sought out is Tenerife.




Efling Strikes: Gas Stations Could Run Dry as Early as Thursday

driving in reykjavík

The CEO of Skeljungur says that gas stations could run out of gas as early as Thursday if oil truck drivers begin strikes on Wednesday, Vísir reports. The Director General of the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise has called the Efling union’s strikes “pointless.”

Strikes around the corner

There is still no progress in the wage dispute between the Efling union and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA); strikes of oil truck drivers, Beraya hotel employees, and Edition hotel employees are looming. If no settlement is reached, strikes will begin this Wednesday, and if they do – oil companies’ provisions are expected to run dry quickly.

Þórður Guðjónsson, CEO of Skeljungur – Shell’s official reseller in Iceland – told Vísir yesterday that he was concerned about the situation. Efling union members have been preparing for the strike since they voted on the matter earlier this month.

“This is a matter of concern because Iceland is dependent on oil, and it is quite clear that this will hit us pretty hard if it happens. Since it was announced that a strike was planned beginning on midday, Wednesday, February 16, we began filling all of our supply tanks,” Þórður remarked.

It doesn’t take many days to empty a gas station, Þórður noted – even high-capacity stations like Orkan on Vesturlandsvegur (where the interview was conducted): “It will probably be empty on day two after the strike, so we’re talking late evening on Thursday, this station could start to run dry.”

The effects of the strikes could prove multifaceted: freight transport and tourism, for example, would suffer from the gas shortage, while various essential services would be exempted from the strike. “The police, ambulances, the fire brigade, our search-and-rescue teams, those who handle anti-icing, snow ploughs, the hospitals, back-up stations, and god knows what; these services are among those that would be exempt,” Þórður Guðjónsson observed.

The strikes are “pointless”

Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson, Chair of the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, was interviewed on the radio programme Sprengisandur yesterday morning. He claimed that Efling’s strikes were pointless.

“There is no purpose to Efling’s current strikes. There are no negotiation meetings scheduled. The state mediator called a meeting last week, but Efling refused to attend. This is absolutely central to this discussion. Because the purpose and nature of strikes are to force the contracting party to conclude a collective agreement – but there are no meetings in this dispute. The only thing that the parties are waiting for is the Court of Appeal’s ruling, and when that ruling is made, the progress of the labour dispute will be determined,” Halldór Benjmaín stated.

If the Court of Appeal confirms the ruling of the District Court of Reykjvík, the Efling union would be forced to hand over its electoral roll (i.e. membership registry) and then vote on the state mediator’s proposal; their agreement would be the equivalent of a collective agreement.

“There are only two options that can arise. On the one hand, the members of Efling accept the mediation proposal, and the mediation proposal will then be the equivalent of a collective bargaining agreement, effective retroactively from November 1, 2022. Then, in fact, this cycle of collective bargaining in the Icelandic labour market would almost be over,” Halldór Benjamín concluded.