Grindavík Businesses Call for More Access Skip to content

Grindavík Businesses Call for More Access

By Yelena

Photo: Golli. Grindavík.

A group of 144 Grindavík businesses have sent an appeal to Icelandic authorities calling for more access to the evacuated town so they can keep their operations running. The town’s municipal authorities have released a statement backing the call. If Grindavík businesses are forced to relocate elsewhere, it’s a death sentence for the community, locals say.

Three eruptions in three months

The town of Grindavík (pop. 3,800), on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, has been more or less evacuated since November 10, when powerful seismic activity damaged buildings are roads in and around the community. Crevasses formed by the activity now crisscross the town, making it dangerous to access certain areas. A worker who fell into a crevasse last month while attempting to repair it has not been found.

Since December, three eruptions have occurred near Grindavík. The second of these, in January, destroyed three houses at the north edge of the town, while the third, in February, flowed over the main road into Grindavík (Route 43). Seismic activity and historical data indicate that further eruptions can be expected in the area.

Fishing industry is main employer

“What all the companies have in common is that they have been very seriously damaged by all the access restrictions,” Pétur Hafsteinn Pálsson told RÚV. He is the CEO of Grindavík seafood company Vísir and acting spokesperson for the 144 businesses in question. “This appeal is primarily about taking matters into our own hands,” Pétur continues, saying that Grindavík contractors have been repairing crevasses across the town and would be able to manage greater access safely on their own, without deferring to authorities.

Pétur and other business owners say the town should be opened to businesses sooner after eruptions are over. “We think that the time between eruptions could have been utilised much better that it has been.” He adds, however, that safety must always be the top priority.

Town’s survival depends on businesses

Grindavík is one of the few towns on the southwest stretch of Iceland’s coast that has a harbour. The fishing industry is the town’s largest employer, with public service being the second largest. Municipal authorities in Grindavík have seconded businesses’ appeal with a statement of their own. “The situation is no longer emergency response, rather a long-term event and businesses have reached their limits and now need to begin creating goods rather than rescuing valuables.”

It is unclear whether or when Grindavík residents will be able to live in the town once more, and the government has offered to buy the homes of those who would prefer to relocate. The businesses’ appeal states, however: “In order for the town to have a chance to build up again, the businesses need to keep their lights on.”

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!