All abuzz at Casey
7 August 2006
It's all abuzz at Casey this week, as the station prepares to implement a second fly eradication campaign.
Although an earlier fly population was eradicated in April last year, after surviving and breeding in the warmth of the waste water treatment for several years, these small mushroom gnats (Lycoriella) have reappeared at Casey, first seen again on onions in the warm store.
At the recent international conference for the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), Australia was complimented on its leadership in developing procedures to deal with a range of environmental issues.
Despite our best efforts in terms of ensuring expeditioners' and provedores' compliance with cleaning, fumigation and quarantine procedures, occasionally a tiny egg or bug can slip through the net. However, we have developed processes to deal with any accidental introductions with a rigorous reporting system, alien invertebrate kits and eradication procedures.
There is no sign that this new recurrence of the fly population at Casey has colonised the waste water treatment plant, so it is unlikely that they have established a breeding population, but they have been sighted in the sewage tanks in the main accommodation building, know as the Red Shed.
In keeping with our obligations under the Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, we aim to keep Antarctica free of any introduced species. Weather permitting, plans are afoot for the plumbers to begin the eradication program on Wednesday this week.
All on station will play a role in the process, as the kitchen, toilet and bathroom water supplies and drainage systems will be interrupted for a couple of days in the Red Shed.
Casey has been experiencing very high winds and heavy blizzards for the past few weeks, which would make trekking out to use toilets in other buildings quite hazardous and reduce the likelihood of people being able to conduct field work and so reduce station numbers. However, if the weather forecast is for improved conditions, the eradication program will commence as planned this week. Due to safety concerns, it had been delayed until now when the weather is generally better than earlier in the winter, and the daylight hours longer.
The plumbers will work over two or three days to isolate, clean and treat the kitchen grease trap and sewage holding tanks in the Red Shed. They will wash everything out with a chlorine solution which will be neutralised with ascorbic acid before being released into Shannon Bay.
Check out the Casey webcam to keep an eye on the weather...and tune in next week for an update on 'Operation Casey Fly'!