Large parts of the seabed outside Bergen are badly polluted with heavy metals and organic environmental toxins. However, the Bryggen area next to the old harbour (Vågen) is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the seabed is protected under the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act.
The port of Bergen is one of the Norwegian sea areas that have been prioritised for cleaning up the contaminated seabed. COWI was appointed as project coordinator and technical consultant for the project ‘Cleaner port of Bergen’ in the period 2009-2021. The aim is to prevent the spread of environmental toxins from polluted seabed areas and to create a cleaner port environment. The project is responsible for studies of the environmental status, testing possible solutions, and preparing and implementing the clean-up. The target area is around 3 km² in total and covers Puddefjorden, Store Lungegårdsvann and Vågen. The seabed in Puddefjorden was cleaned-up in 2017-18 by the use of a combination of capping and dredging. The measures against the polluted seabed in the port of Bergen are the largest, most expensive and most complex ever undertaken in the waters of the west of Norway.
The project is innovative in the sense that a combination of new and traditional methods is being considered to achieve the desired environmental status while preserving historic marine artefacts in Vågen. The project has put great effort into communication and information to stakeholder groups and local residents.
Want to learn more? Watch a video about the cleansing process here.