May 01

After water-intrusion scare, Seed Vault renovations begin

Renovation work has begun on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault access tunnel to prevent threatening climate-change-driven meltwater intrusions as those of last May. The work is being planned and administered by Statsbygg, a public sector administration company responsible to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization. Today, the vault holds the world’s largest reserve stock of seeds, now some 930,000, intended to preserve the genetic variety of the world’s food plants.

The civil engineering works include removing more than 22,000 cubic yards of earth to make way for a new concrete access tunnel that will be surrounded by soil containing cooling pipes that will ensure and preserve the permafrost vital to maintaining the low temperature of the vault. Other works include upgrades of technical systems, the construction of a 180-square-meter (1,938-square-foot) service center building located 130 feet from the Vault entrance, and the preparation of two additional vaults to store seeds. The works are scheduled to be completed by May 2019.