Volcanic ash clean-up in Iceland: progress report

An area of southeast Iceland received a very significant amount of ash fall from the Grimsvotn volcano which started erupting on Saturday. Now that the eruption has almost stopped, the clean-up operation is in full swing. Rain has thoroughly washed away the small amount of ash in other Icelandic regions.

A public meeting yesterday evening in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, one of the worst affected villages, was completely full of local residents eager to hear what the authorities are doing.

Residents were told, among other things, that the state of emergency has been lowered to a state of danger and that those with household fire insurance will be covered for their losses and/or clean-up costs.

The Icelandic civil defence agency is opening a service centre in Kirkjubaejarklaustur today. The centre will co-ordinate clean-up workers and be the point of contact for those requesting help, RUV reported.

Outside of the town, local farmers are worried about whether or not they will be able to make any hay this summer. At the present time it is a case of wait-and-see. If the grass emerges from the thick volcanic mud in the coming few weeks, no further action will be needed. If not, the fields may need to be ploughed and re-sown; which would be problematic. Every farm is being visited to monitor their situation and find out how the authorities can help.

In other news, the swimming pool complex in Kirkjubaejarklaustur is hoping to re-open very soon and Skaftafell already re-opened yesterday. Skaftafell is probably the most popular part of the Vatnajokull National Park and had been completely evacuated since Saturday. The first tourists ventured back to the beautiful area yesterday.

More information on the Grimsvotn eruption can be found on the following websites:

Volcano-related advice and news for travellers in Iceland

The University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences

The Icelandic Met Office

The Police Civil Defence Agency