The main purpose of the visit was to meet with Dr. Pernille Erland Jensen and her colleagues from Center for Arctic Technology (ARTEK), Danish University of Technology (DTU), Copenhagen to plan for a common research proposal on remediation of mine sites and other contaminated areas. ARTEK has facilities for field studies and education in Sisimiut. During the visit I could visit field sites where Dr. Erland Jensen and her colleagues pursue different experiments aiming at developing methods to treat soils contaminated by oil and other types of pollutants. One of the specific goals with the visits was to identify conditions that distinguish high Arctic conditions from those prevailing in e.g. northern Scandinavia. There was time allocated for discussons on other project ideas as well.
The visit coincided with an international field course in Arctic technology with participation of students from many countries. In all there were approximately 75 students split in groups working with different projects. I could particularly meet with those groups of students working on projects addressing soil contamination and metals in sea sediments. We had interesting discussions in which I learned from their observations and I could contribute with my geochemical expertise.
The research proposal under development as mentioned above is an outcome of the work performed by members of the UArctic thematic network Environmental Impact Assessment of Industry Contaminated Areas, which I am the coordinator of. The framework of the research program has been drafted at two meetings: in May 2012 in Tromsø and in October 2012 at DTU, Copenhagen. Our goal is to prepare a call in one of the research programmes of EU Horizon 2020. The EU is now identifying Arctic as an important region; not the least due to the prospects of opening new mines in order to secure access to raw materials. There are great concerns that mining in these vulnerable areas can cause adverse effects in the environment. On the other hand, if managed in a proper and responsible way mining can also contribute to a positive development in some areas. The research projects we are planning addresses both old and abandoned mine sites (legacy contaminants) and future operations.
On my way back, I made a 24 h stop in Kangerlussuak to study the conditions there. I could also make a visit to the ice shield.
To summarize, the week in Sisimiut was very rewarding. I learned a lot about the Greenlandic environment and the work the researchers at Artek, DTU are doing on West Greenland. I had interesting discussions with the research staff and students. I am most grateful for the financial support from MobilityDK making my visit possible.