PFAS Drinking Water Contamination in Alaska

Ms Danielle Pensley1

1City of Fairbanks, Alaska, Fairbanks, United States

In 2014, PFAS contamination from decades of exercises involving aqueous fire-fighting foam was found at the site of the Regional Fire Training Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Groundwater testing over the next five years uncovered the spread of PFOS and PFOA in a northwesterly plume across the city. Meanwhile, the number of known PFAS contaminated sites across Alaska has grown to over fifteen. (

Typically the state or the military was the source of contamination; Fairbanks is the only municipal responsible party in the state. The city’s response evolved from public outreach and water delivery to last month’s filing in federal court against 3M and Tyco Fire Products.

The backdrop is the convoluted federal and state regulation of PFAS in the U.S. Under the previous governor, Alaska boasted a more stringent approach than the Environmental Protection Agency – yet would not sue manufacturers. Now with conservatives in power, Alaska has rolled back its progressive regulations and retreated behind a much publicized but perhaps toothless federal action plan.

Locally utilized PFAS presents a different facet to the problem of this chemical of emerging Arctic concern, which is otherwise characterized by oceanic and atmospheric transport from developing industrial sites in Asia. (AMAP 2016.)


The deputy city attorney for Fairbanks, Alaska and affiliate faculty in the School of Natural Resources & Extension at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Danielle Pensley holds an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy & International Affairs at Princeton University, a J.D. from Cornell Law School, and an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from the School of Art, Architecture & Planning at Cornell University. Danielle is the founder of Borealis Community Land Trust and has published on such topics as city planning in socialist Germany, stream interventions and developer exactions, and traditional ecological knowledge in the North.

Indonesia’s interest in the Arctic region

Mr Maruf Maruf1

1South China Sea Institute, Xiamen, China

The intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the Arctic ice will disappear by 2025 because of global warming, which carries many significant implications for world trade, energy, security, as well as geopolitics. The Arctic, regionally, has a very promising future, and its role has been fully arranged in a forum called the Arctic Council. Some Asian states also have shown their interest in Arctic Ocean. China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Singapore have been permitted as observers since 2013. Indonesia as an archipelagic country which has over thousand small islands is one of the most vulnerable from the arctic activities. Global warming, ice melting and the new shipping route through the Arctic also give an impact on the Indonesia shipping activities. This paper provides a recent discussion on the Asian interest in the Arctic region. This paper also argues that Indonesian government should put in on application to join Arctic council and share in deliberation concerning the governance of Arctic region.


PhD Candidate of The Law of the Sea at South China Sea Insitute of Xiamen University. I got my LL.M on Environmental and Natural Protection Law from Ocean University of China. My research area: Marine Environment Protection, Climate Change, Marine Pollution, International Environmental Law

Legal Gaps and Complexities of Polar Pollution in an Arctic Context

Dr Seita Romppanen1

1Law School, Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (CCEEL), University Of Eastern Finland (UEF), Joensuu, Finland

The presentation discusses the legal and regulatory questions arising under emerging scientific evidence regarding polar pollution. Both Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems are facing an ever-increasing burden of environmental harm from anthropogenic activities taking place outside and within the poles. Against a polar framework, the presentation focuses on an Arctic context. The regulatory instruments currently governing of polar and especially Arctic pollution are identified and discussed. What are the key strengths and weaknesses, or gaps, in the existing regulatory framework? What kind of international legal complex is necessary to effectively regulate and mitigate polar, and particularly Arctic, pollution? In its approach, the presentation also notes the international dimension of polar law and the polar dimension of international law. The presentation finish with suggestions towards potential regulatory pathways to strengthen approaches to polar and especially Arctic pollution. As activities outside the polar regions having an influence on polar pollution, the challenge of polar pollution can only be resolved through a regulatory regime that engages global as well as polar actors.

The abstract is based on a book chapter written jointly with Dr. Sabaa Khan for The EE Research Handbook on Polar Law (eds. K. Scott and D. VanderZwaag).


Dr. Seita Romppanen is Senior Lecturer in international Environmental Law from the Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (CCEEL), University Of Eastern Finland (UEF) Law School. She directs the first Nordic joint-master degree programme on Environmental Law together with two other Nordic law faculties. Her published and ongoing research focuses on various themes under international and EU environmental law, such as EU climate law, circular bioeconomy and Arctic law.

Black carbon and the Arctic: Global problem‐solving through the nexus of science, law and space

Dr Sabaa Ahmad Khan1, Professor Kati Kulovesi1

1School of Law, University Of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland

Black carbon pollution is an important driver of climate change in the Arctic region. Most black carbon emissions entering the Arctic originate from non‐Arctic sources, and hence mitigating black carbon pollution in the Arctic region requires not only regional, but global engagement. Attempts to regulate borderless climate pollutants such as black carbon force us to think about law’s effectiveness from the perspective of its relationship to science as well as its engagement with space. This article argues that for effective legal problem‐solving, black carbon pollution must be addressed from the point of view of science, law and space. Scientific, social and spatial landscapes reveal different legal narratives embedded in climate governance that have traditionally fallen outside the State‐led discourse of environmental legal negotiation and yet are central to developing a meaningful understanding of global climate ‘law’, realities and outcomes.


Sabaa Ahmad Khan is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law (School of Law, University of Eastern Finland) and an Attorney Member of the Barreau du Québec. She is a Member and 2019 Chair of the Joint Public Advisory Committee established under the North American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation. Khan holds a doctorate from the Faculty of Law at McGill University, where she was an O’Brien Doctoral Fellow of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. She is currently leading an Arctic environmental justice project funded by the Academy of Finland.

Examining the Prevalence of Soft Law: Cases of the Arctic and Climate Change

Miss Hema Nadarajah1

1University Of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Soft law, binding or non-binding written legal instruments, have been observed to be increasing within the frontiers – regions and issue-areas that extend beyond national jurisdiction, and where governance substantively integrates scientific and technological knowledge. The often-used assumption for the prevalence of such instruments has been the uncertainty of scientific knowledge. This paper takes this facile analysis further by examining the dynamic changes to the number and diversity of state and non-state actors as well as their relative influence. It also examines the interaction of hard and soft instruments as well as the possible trends within the respective case’s sphere of legal governance, investigating if another commonly held assumption that soft law crystallizes into a hard treaty holds within these cases. Within the cases examined in this paper, the Arctic and Climate Change, preliminary research shows that this has not been the case. Through analysis of the legal framework within which each case is governed and a mixed methodology drawing from the fields of international relations and international law, this research hypothesizes that the prevalence of soft law has been an outcome of domestic politics, as well as geopolitical tensions among the relevant states within the respective cases.


Hema is a PhD Candidate (International Relations) at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the increasing use of soft law instruments and their influence on inter-state relations on topics pertaining to the Arctic, Climate Change, and Outer Space. Originally from Singapore, she also examines the role of the island city-state in the Arctic.

Hema has a Master of Environment from the Australian National University where she specialized in Climate Change, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto where she majored in Geology.

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