High levels of toxic chemical dumped off Greenland

A new report has concluded that dangerous levels of chemicals are in material dumped in the sea and now authorities are working to recover the rubble A toxic substance was found to be on building material that has been dumped...

A toxic substance was found to be on building material that has been dumped in the sea off the coast of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and a new report recommends the immediate removal of the material from the waters.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were commonly found in paints, cements and sealants, until they were banned in the 1970s after having entered the food chain due to being dumped in water, causing toxic health effects in humans and animals.

Earlier this spring, two large housing blocks were torn down in Nuuk and the rubble dumped in the sea as part of a plan to create a foundation for a new harbour area.

However, when PCB was found in a third housing block, consultancy firm Cowi was asked to investigate the possibility of PCB being in rubble already dumped in the sea.

The Cowi report will be published later today, but the department head of the Greenland Environmental Protection Agency (APA) has said that the results are not good.

‘There’s a lot of PCB in [the rubble] and the paint is regarded as especially dangerous waste,’ said department head Tina Petersen to Ingeniøren trade journal.

Petersen confirmed that the report found PCB levels of 330-1030 milligrams per kilo in the paint. But finding out which parts of the rubble need to be removed from the sea will prove problematic for the authorities.

The PCB has penetrated one to two centimetres into the concrete and with parts of the rubble being crushed during the demolition, it will be likely that all the material must be removed from the ocean.

Petersen said they are now looking at the costs involved in removing the material and working out if it will eventually be disposed of properly in Greenland or Denmark.

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