Sewage washes ashore at Norway’s prehistoric World Heritage site

Sewage washes ashore at Norway's prehistoric World Heritage site
Prehistoric rock art at Alta, Norway.Andrew Arch/Flickr
Faeces, toilet paper, wet wipes and cotton earbuds were among the sewage littered around the UNESCO site of the pre-historic rock art in Alta, northern Norway.

The waste at the site of the petroglyphs, or rock carvings in the Alta Fjord, near the Arctic circle was discovered during a beach cleaning day.

“When we followed the path down, we quickly saw that something was wrong. When we looked a little closer, we saw that were was faeces, wet wipes, Q-tips and tampons there,” Line Mårvik Pettersen told state broadcaster NRK.

“It didn’t smell. So, it clearly had been there for a while,” She added.

The sewage was lodged in seaweed that washed ashore.

There was a similar problem in 2011 when a sewage pipe in the same area became clogged; it is unclear what the cause of the problem is this time around.

“So far, we have not received clarity as to what the reason is,” Magne Opgåard said.

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The rock carvings date back to between 2,000 and 7,000 years ago and represent the only prehistoric monument in Norway. 

They were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The World Heritage site consists of four areas in Alta with petroglyphs. These are Hjemmeluft, Kåfjord and Amtamannsnes and Stortstein.

“We are a world heritage area, and our world heritage is one of the most beautiful things we have. This is Alta’s face to the outside world, so it’s clear that it’s very unfortunate that you get sewage washing up in such a nice area,” Anita Taipo, department head at the Alta Museum, said.

“Had this happened in the middle of the season in 2019, where we have up to 1,000 visitors in one day, it is clear that it would not have been fun to show this,” she added.

Work is underway in Alta to clear the roads of snow so the equipment needed to investigate the problem can be transported to the site.

The municipality will then clear up the affected areas.


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