AAD, Collex join in clean-up effort

The Australian Antarctic Division has joined forces with a leading international waste management company in a multi-year effort to fulfill a long-standing commitment by Australia to clean up abandoned waste sites in Antarctica. An agreement between the AAD and Collex/Onyx Australia - a subsidiary of French-based Vivendi Environment - will result in Collex providing 240 purpose-built containers to transport waste collected from Antarctic sites. After their initial use at Australia's Casey station, the containers will be made available for future work by Australia and other Antarctic nations.

The Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill, said the agreement provides a boost to Australia's work under the Antarctic Treaty to remediate past waste sites in Antarctica. "Australia is committed to protecting the Antarctic environment, and Collex brings a wealth of experience in waste management to this long and important task," he said.

The Collex-provided containers will initially be used to return rubbish from a site near Casey station, called Thala Valley, which for over 20 years through the 1970s and 1980s was the station's main waste dump. The clean-up, to begin next year, follows a two-year study of the site by AAD scientists to determine how best to remove waste from the area without creating further environmental impacts. The study will continue into the clean-up process, monitoring the work and obtaining data for future work at other sites. AAD crews at Casey will sort waste and load the containers at the tip site. Collex will treat and dispose of the waste on its return to Australia.

The cooperative endeavour between the AAD and the French company Vivendi continues a record of cooperation between Australia and France in protecting the Antarctic environment which dates back to their joint instigation of the historic Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Specialist equipment employed in this exercise will later be made available to other nations for similar work elsewhere in Antarctica.