NIRAS has won the assignment to assess and screen eight locations in Greenland former used by American Military

History leaves its traces in Greenland – now it’s time to clean up

Empty barrels in large piles, military vehicles, and old airplane wrecks are some of the remnants illustrating the history of remote areas in Greenland. NIRAS has won the assignment to assess and screen eight of the affected locations. An assignment of great significance to two of NIRAS’ arctic experts.

15. Sep 2020

An old dream has recently become reality for two NIRAS-geologists and arctic experts Uffe Storm Boe and Peter Henriksen. NIRAS has won an assignment in Greenland, which they have been working on securing, since they executed the initial works in 2002.

Back in 2002, the first report for The Danish Environmental Protection Agency was devised about activity and waste mapping in the open lands of Greenland. It encompassed desk-registration of all known locations, where remnants possibly causing contamination of soil, groundwater, and protected nature in Greenland might have been left.

630 locations were registered in the report, such as old weather and measuring stations, abandoned fishing stations, fuel deposits, airplane wrecks, old hamlets, and a whole lot of American military locations from World War II.

Historical fascination

Both Uffe and Peter resided and worked in Greenland back then. Here they visited some of the old locations and were fascinated by the history:

“I visited e.g. an abandoned aerodrome from The Second World War with plenty of remnants such as vehicles, eroded buildings, a landing strip, more than 100,000 empty barrels, etc. The barrels were stacked in large piles. Locally they are referred to as “American flowers”, because they resemble mountain flowers from the ships far away. It is incredible how much has been discarded.” Peter says, about his first impressions of the remnants.

This is where the dream of traveling around Greenland was born for both Uffe and Peter.

“As consultants we are the ones who will travel all around Greenland in helicopters and on ships to register the individual locations, devise environmental historical assessments, analysis, etc.,” Uffe explains about the excitement for this particular assignment.

Won tender for eight locations

Since then, Activity and Waste Mapping in Greenland has popped up quite regularly on NIRAS’ to do list. Uffe and Peter has classified the locations, provided suggestions and plans for analysis and clean-up methods, as well as price assessments. Finally they devised a collective report in 2009.

Before the summer, a tender was finally released for eight locations in Greenland. They will be assessing and screening eight locations, which were previously used by the American military. An assignment to wrap up all the initial work done throughout the years.

“We were all-in. It was a must-win assignment,” Uffe says and continues: “It has now been 18 years since NIRAS Greenland commenced the assignment with waste locations in Greenland, and now we finally get to take part in finishing it. We almost can’t wait to get started with the field trips.”

Peter adds: “We both have the Arctic bug, and we are fascinated by these historic locations. It is an amazing assignment we now get to finish.”