FROM GARBAGE DUMP TO RECREATION AREA
From 1938 until 1975 there was a large amount of trash dumped in Kollevågen. A lot of the garbage from the city of Bergen ended up here. The dump was up to 20 metres high, and much got dumped under water in the bay. When the dump was closed, the time had come to make good on a municipal promise to make the place into a recreation area. In 1978, nets and earth were laid over the dump, and afterward it was sowed with seeds. This was quite successful, and In 1983, the recreation area was opened.
This was an unusual change in the usage of a dump. The only one that perhaps was not so happy about this development was the hubro owl that lived nearby. The rats, crows and gulls that the owl collected from the dump were perhaps not health food, but they were easy access food that was available all year long. That the hubro establishes its territory at such places is well known from many other Norwegian dump sites. The covering over of an old dump - when no one knows exactly what might be buried here - is no simple solution. In the time following, the waves washed forth some of the garbage. Sediments on the sea floor also contain environmental pollutants, and locally, the fish and shells are contaminated. Even though the area is now used for swimming, there is clearly a need for new and costly measures in order to improve the conditions.
The amounts of several environmental pollutants are too high in the fjord system around Bergen today. It is therefore prohibited to fish some of the fish types that are caught in the most contaminated waters. Old environmental leaks from earlier dumps in the Bergen area are an important reason for this. New studies at Kollevågen have shown that the toxic elements do not spread far. Nonetheless, it is important to improve conditions also here. It is possible to "repair" Kollevågen, but it will be expensive. An estimate from 1999 is on the order of 30 million kroner. Bergen and Omland Friluftsråd, the organization that manages the recreational area, considers Kollevågen one of the finest recreation areas in the region today, but the goal is to improve it even more.
Several of the environmental pollutants that are found in the old garbage dump er forbidden in Norway today. This pertains to i.e. PCB (forbidden since 1980; PCB from industry today must be exported for destruction) and DDT (whose use was strongly limited since 1969, and all use in Norway prohibited since 1985). There was a fair amount of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from old dump sites. PAH is cancer-causing and quite poisonous. In PAH-affected fjord systems there are often restrictions on the consumption of for example shellfish. All such environmental contaminants take a long time to break down in nature.