Micro-organisms will assist a team of scientists to clean up contaminated sites in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island this year.

The remediation projects are focused on old fuel spill locations at Casey station and Macquarie Island.

Field manager, Tim Spedding, said naturally occurring micro-organisms in the soil are encouraged to consume more of the leaked fuel in order to speed up the remediation process.

“Fuel is a natural source of energy for the micro-organisms, and we want to encourage them to use it more by aerating and adding nutrients to the contaminated soil, making it break down faster,” Mr Spedding said.

“We are also using leading technology, permeable reactive barriers, developed with our colleagues from Melbourne University to stop the fuel spreading from the contaminated site into the surrounding environment.”

The team will also help finalise the clean-up of the old tip site at Casey station, known as Thala Valley, with the contaminated soil being collected and shipped back to Australia.

Some of the remediation group will depart Hobart today on the icebreaker Aurora Australis.