Grindavík will remain closed until December 28, with essential services like the Svartsengi Power Station operating on a limited basis and the Blue Lagoon being closed. At a press conference today, PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced that government housing support for Grindavík residents would be extended throughout the winter.
Response teams no longer stationed in Grindavík
After a meeting this morning, the Police Chief of Suðurnes has issued a temporary prohibition on all traffic and presence in the town of Grindavík, RÚV reports. This decision was in response to a hazard assessment map and will remain in effect until December 28. Consequently, the operations near the Svartsengi Power Station will continue on a limited basis, and the Blue Lagoon will remain closed during this period.
Existing roadblocks on Grindavíkurvegur, Nesvegur (425), and Suðurstrandarvegur will be maintained. While response teams will no longer be stationed in Grindavík, they will be available for critical interventions in the town as needed. Additionally, the police are enforcing a 24-hour surveillance of Grindavík to ensure public safety.
Extended Housing Support for Grindavík Residents
At a press conference hosted by the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management at 2 PM today, PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced that the government’s housing support for Grindavík residents, initially slated to last three months, has been extended throughout the winter.
Additionally, the rental company Bríet has purchased 80 apartments, with 70 of them to be available for use by Grindavík residents before Christmas. The rental company Bjarg has also acquired new apartments that will be ready for occupancy before the new year.
Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, noted that there was no planned construction of trails or other infrastructure to permit interested parties, whether foreign or local, to visit the site of the eruption.
More lava flow compared to previous eruptions
Kristín Jónsdóttir, a Natural Hazards Specialist with the Icelandic MET Office, stated that a new hazard assessment map would be published tomorrow. Kristín also noted that while volcanic activity had significantly decreased, the eruption, more powerful than the preceding three eruptions on the peninsula, was still ongoing. Kristín pointed out that the current lava field, not two days after the eruption, covered approximately 3.7 square kilometres; for comparison, the lava field from the first eruption at Fagradalsfjall was around 5 square kilometres.
Many issues to address before a homecoming
During the press conference, Mayor of Grindavík Fannar Jónasson explained that Grindavík residents planned on completing their children’s school year at their current locations, without intending to move their schooling back to Grindavik. He emphasised the importance of providing continuous support for residents until spring, to avoid a patchwork approach in assisting the people of Grindavik.
He also noted that there were several considerations to address before Grindavík residents could return home, especially concerning infrastructure repairs. These included filling in cracks, repairing roads, and fixing the sewage system.