Kiruna, Sweden -
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 02-19-2007, 05:06 AM Thread Starter
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Kiruna, Sweden

I believe they can do this, as Swedes were the ones who developed a plan to move Abu Simbel!

SwedishTown Uproots to Save Itself From Disaster

Weakened Mine Walls Bring About Plan for Gradual Evacuation

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 19, 2007; A07

KIRUNA, Sweden -- For someone whose city is on its way to being swallowed up by the earth, Vice Mayor Hans Swedell is a man of unbridled optimism.
Three years ago the Swedish mining company LKAB -- which provides the city's economic lifeblood -- informed Swedell and other local officials that a century of extracting iron ore from underground was taking a toll on the bedrock under the town's homes and offices. Cracks had developed in the mine wall that angles thousands of feet beneath the city, and if they didn't start moving the buildings in a couple of decades, key parts of the city might collapse.
The citizens of Kiruna -- who dub themselves "the No-Problem People" -- have taken on this geological challenge with gusto. Last month, the town council voted to move much of the 23,000-person city to a spot 1.25 to 2.5 miles northwest of its current location, away from the direction of the cracks.
"We have an opportunity to make a new town in the best way in the world," Swedell said in an interview.
The fate of Kiruna, a city located 90 miles above the Arctic Circle, where temperatures average below 10 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year, has been inexorably linked to the mine since both arose in 1890, when railroads made it possible for Swedish miners to transport high-phosphorus iron ore from Lapland to Stockholm and abroad.
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Proud of their red wooden church-- which won recognition as Sweden's most beautiful building in 2001 -- and of their town hall, which features an Italian floor and handmade bricks from the Netherlands, officials want to preserve the city by moving it. They plan to move the entire town center, which includes the railroad, a highway and the city's water and sewage system, away from its current site to protect it from further harm.
"The Kiruna citizens are saying, 'We need the mine, and if we want the mine, we have to move the town,' " Lindberg said. "It's sad we have to move the town, but at the same time it's so important [that] the new town becomes as good or even better, because we want our employees to stay here."
While the city has just completed a 250-page document outlining a timetable and plan for the move, its officials have yet to pin down many specifics. They are still exploring the possibility of moving the town hall intact, and they will likely transport many houses on large trailers.
But they have yet to come up with an exact price estimate for the massive project, which is likely to cost billions of dollars.
"No one actually knows what it's going to cost," said Lindberg, whose company will pay for the bulk of the move. "We don't have to move the whole town in a couple of years."
By 2013, the town plans to move the railway and the residences of 450 people; a decade later, officials hope to have relocated 1,700 to 3,000 residents as well as the high school and hospital. The entire move is due to be complete in 2099, Swedell said.
Kiruna Mayor Kenneth Stalnacke said he and other city officials hope the relocated town can support new high-tech jobs that will attract women and young people to move back after attending university.
"Many young people leave the city to educate themselves and don't come back. That's a shame," Stalnacke said. "We have a political ambition to make this city not so dependent on the mine."
At the same time, Kiruna officials are hoping their move can become a model for communities that will be affected by climate change in the coming decades. The predicted sea level rises will eventually force many cities in the developing world to move tens of thousands of people to higher ground, and Kiruna is organizing a conference in 2008 that will examine how best to do this.
"Why not have this relocation as a good example?" asked Swedell, who has invited former vice president Al Gore to attend but has not heard back. "We are moving because of the cracks; they are moving because of the water coming in."
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