Hydrocarbon and Toxic Metal Contamination from Tank Installations in a Northwest Greenlandic Village

Janne Fritt-Rasmussen, Pernille Erland Jensen, Rune Haubo Bojesen Christensen, Ingela Dahllöf

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Contamination from tank installations in the Arctic is an important issue, since tanks are a necessary feature of all communities, and may be a source of local pollution. Soil samples from below and
around three tank installations and one reference site in the Northwest Greenlandic village of Tasiusaq were analysed for the total content of hydrocarbons (THC), lead, cadmium and organic content in the soil. Concentrations up to 77,000 mg/kg DW THC were found, mainly as weathered oil products. Elevated levels of lead and cadmium were also found in many of the samples, with concentrations up to 300 and 2 mg/kg DW, respectively. The tank installation areas were contaminated by THC, lead and cadmium compared to the reference site, and parts of the areas were highly contaminated, exceeding the Danish environmental quality criteria. The correlation between lead and cadmium concentrations was significant (p<0.01), while no correlation existed between THC and organic matter. Small spills from daily use of the tank installations are suggested to be the source of the THC contamination, whereas the lead and cadmium contamination is suggested to originate primarily from the plume of smoke
from waste incineration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater, Air and Soil Pollution
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)4407–4416
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Contamination
  • Arctic
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Toxic metals
  • Greenland
  • Above-ground storage tank installations


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