The Australian Government, through the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Australian Antarctic Division, own and operate the research station on Macquarie Island, in a cooperative arrangement with the Tasmanian Government.
The Australian Government’s Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan highlighted the need to urgently deal with the ageing infrastructure at Macquarie Island.
The station currently operates on a year-round basis and can accommodate up to 40 personnel at peak times. Critical scientific and long-term monitoring is conducted at the station by agencies including the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Geoscience Australia (GA) and the Tasmanian Government.
An independent engineering investigation of the current station, completed in May 2016, determined that it required significant reinvestment to ensure its continued safe operation due to the age of the infrastructure, or complete replacement. The report highlighted issues associated with occupational health and safety factors and environmental contamination, and site exposure to ocean inundation, which represented a risk to expeditioners and the Australian Antarctic Division.
A project to upgrade the Island’s research station began in 2016, when the Federal Government committed $50 million to secure the future of the station and scientific research on the island.
After a three year planning phase it’s been concluded the best option, within the allocated budget, is to renovate existing buildings and decommission older infrastructure.
The final outcome will ensure all the safety issues originally identified with the existing station are addressed and mitigated.
The AAD intends to modernise the key elements of the existing station to ensure that we can continue to enable a year-round presence. Works will focus on providing a safe and comfortable operating environment for our expeditioners and completing the project within budget.