Cleaning Up Antarctica
The UK has completed a £2M programme to remove abandoned British bases and waste dumps from Antarctica, in accordance with the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991). The Protocol requires abandoned work sites and rubbish dumps in Antarctica to be ‘cleaned up’.
The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) regulates British activities in Antarctica through the Antarctic Act (1994), which enforces the Protocol. Under these regulations the FCO require BAS to remove redundant facilities. The clean-up of these bases, which are spread over a wide geographical area, represents a significant logistical challenge.
Large quantities or building material, hazardous wastes, fuel and rubbish have been removed from:
- South Georgia Island (huts, reindeer exclosure fences and other remains removed from Carlita Bay, Johnson Beach, Moltke Harbour, Hound Bay, Husvik, Tønsburg Point, Ocean Harbour, Søsrling Valley and Schleiper Bay, 2005/06);
- Bird Island;
- Danco Island and Prospect Point (Stations O and J removed 2003/04);
- Fossil Bluff (waste dump removed 2002/03);
- Signy Research Station (unused buildings and fuel tank removed 2001/02);
- Bonner Laboratory, (remains of building destroyed by fire in September 2001, removed from Rothera Research Station);
- Portal Point (Reclus Hut dismantled 1996/97 and transported to the Falkland Islands Museum);
- Orford Cliff (hut removed 1996/97);
- Admiralty Bay (Station G removed by the Brazilian Antarctic Expedition, 1995/6); and
- Anvers Island (remains of Station N removed by US personnel, 1990/01).
Rather than being removed, some former UK stations have been handed over to other Antarctic Treaty countries to operate, such as Hope Bay Station D, Faraday Station F, Adelaide Station T and View Point Station V.
The Protocol's clean up requirements exclude Historic Sites and Monuments designated under the Antarctic Treaty system. Designations of UK stations and huts include Port Lockroy Station (Historic Site No. 61), Wordie House (Historic Site No. 62) Horseshoe Island Station Y and Blaiklock Island Refuge (Historic Site No. 63), Stonington Island Station E (Historic Site No. 64), Detaille (Historic Site No. 83) and Damoy (Historic Site No. 84).