Australian Antarctic stations comply with strict environmental procedures

Australia’s Antarctic stations at Davis and Mawson were audited by independent Environmental Management System (EMS) auditor Mr Phil Crosby, in January this year, as part of Australia’s internationally certified (ISO 14001) environmental management accreditation. Mr Crosby was accompanied by Leslie Frost and Shaun Walsh of the AAD.

As well as testing compliance with established environmental procedures, the audit provided an opportunity for an independent assessor to make recommendations for improvement.

In the executive summary to his report Mr Crosby said ‘… this audit covered a wide range of processes and activities, most of which were carried out, not only to be in accordance with AAD policies and guidelines, but often as a personal standard of the leader, expeditioner, or scientist. It was especially noted and pleasing to see the pre-departure training and Environmental Code of Conduct, being seriously fulfilled and delivered by new and departing personnel’. He said the EMS is currently most effectively implemented within the AAD’s Operations Branch, which is responsible for implementing most of the procedures and processes that impact on the Antarctic environment.

Mr Crosby identified a number of areas for improvement including:

  • The need for some revision and expansion of procedures in the EMS Manual;
  • The need for better document control to ensure that everyone uses the current authorised version of environmental procedures, and to ensure these procedures are available on the AAD’s intranet;
  • Improvements on stations relating to fuel storage, the labelling and re-use of 200 litre drums and storage of cement boxes; and
  • Improvements to internal environmental audits to meet the ISO standard and to be effective tools for management.
The report also contains many observations to assist the AAD to improve environmental management. The AAD will prepare Action Plans to respond to the findings of the audit report. Our response will then be re-assessed in three months time and again at the re-certification audit in August this year.

Shaun Walsh and Leslie Frost, Environment Advisor and EMS Coordinator, AAD