Terrestrial pollution

The old Mawson tip, closed in 1985
The old Mawson tip. All rubbish tips on Australian stations were closed in 1985.
Quad tracks made several years ago in the Larsemann Hills

Australia takes very seriously the threat of pollution resulting from its activities in Antarctica.

The AAD has developed stringent guidelines for every aspect of ANARE operations, including detailed emergency procedures in the case of potential disasters.

Each Antarctic station can store over a million litres of fuel in above-ground tanks. These 'fuel farms' are located in concrete dams, or bunds, which are intended to contain fuel spills or leaks. Fuel is slow to break down in the cold climate and may persist in the environment for many years.

Any significant spill on land will eventually find its way into the marine environment, with potentially devastating consequences for the marine life: birds, seals, fish and other life forms. We take special precautions when transferring fuel from ship shore, or refuelling vehicles and aircraft.

The AAD is reducing fuel use and the resulting pollution by developing and enhancing the use of alternative energy sources. Alternative energy technologies are now well advanced, and have lead to the first installation and commissioning of large-scale wind turbines in Antarctica at Mawson station. These turbines produce nearly a megawatt of electricity for use at the station, with hopes to install more at the other permanent stations.

The installation in 1998/1999 of the Building and Monitoring Control System (BMCS) (an automated maintenance and control system for the lighting, heating and air quality on Antarctic stations), significantly reduced both operating and energy costs at Australia's three Antarctic stations. The BMCS can be monitored, programmed and controlled from both the stations and the AAD Headquarters at Kingston. For details of other energy reduction projects, visit our energy management page.

It is an operational requirement that all stations have special storage areas for hazardous chemicals used in the laboratories and workshops, and comprehensive waste management practices.

All construction and general operational sites are kept tidy, with materials secured from the wind and their location noted so that they don't become lost under snow. Regular station clean ups ensure that no litter escapes into the environment.

All expeditioners are briefed before departure on appropriate environmental guidelines and procedures for all station and field operations.

This page was last modified on 24 August 2012.