Norway spending millions to update doomsday vault
Friday, February 23, 2018, 7:50 PM - Norway plans to spend 100 million Norwegian crowns ($13 million US) to upgrade a doomsday seed vault on an Arctic island built 10 years ago to protect the world's food supplies, the government said on Friday.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is meant as a natural deep freeze to back up the world's gene banks in case of disasters ranging from nuclear war to global warming. It has about 900,000 seed samples.
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The revamp would cover "construction of a new, concrete-built access tunnel, as well as a service building to house emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
An unexpected thaw of permafrost meant some water flowed into the entrance of the tunnel to the vault in late 2016. A decade ago, Norway said that it had cost $9 million to build the facility.
In 2015, researchers made a first withdrawal from the vault after Syria's civil war damaged a seed bank near the Syrian city of Aleppo. The seeds were grown and re-deposited at the Svalbard vault last year.
"This demonstrates that the seed vault is a worldwide insurance for food supply for future generations," Agriculture Minister Jon Georg Dale said in a statement.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; editing by Mark Heinrich)