Cleaning-up Antarctica

Tip site at Thala Valley
Tip site at Thala Valley (Photo: Chris Paterson)

The AAD has responsibility for the coordination of the remediation program of Australia's Antarctic and subantarctic waste and contaminated sites.

The AAD has conducted research into the development of methods for remediating old waste disposal sites and for monitoring the environmental impacts of these sites.

Initial studies have been conducted at the abandoned Wilkes Station and the Thala Valley tip near Casey Station.

In order to trial and evaluate the impacts of differing remediation methods, the Thala Valley tip site is being cleaned up in the first instance. Removal of waste commenced in the 2002/03 season, and has been continued in subsequent seasons, along with work at the tip sites near Wilkes Station.

Between November 2000 and February 2001, an extensive clean-up was also undertaken at the abandoned station site at Atlas Cove on Heard Island. This clean-up removed over 25 tonnes of building debris and waste. This initial clean-up was followed up during the 2003-2004 expedition to Heard Island.

Wilkes cleanup

Part of the research program has involved the mapping of contaminated sites at Wilkes Station and its environs. This information is now available in a geographic information system (GIS) through the Australian Antarctic Data Centre.