"Pollution at Australia’s largest Antarctic research station, Casey, has
exceeded international guidelines for close to 20 years, new research shows.
Analysing marine sediment levels around Casey station between 1997 and 2015,
Australian and Canadian scientists found that levels of multiple contaminants
exceeded international quality guidelines.
These included arsenic, toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, and persistent
organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls – highly carcinogenic
compounds that have been banned from global production since 2001 but last for
long periods in the environment.
Casey is the largest of three research stations managed by the Australian
Antarctic Division and one of 112 research stations on the southern continent.
“Antarctic research stations such as Casey are likely to pose a moderate level
of long-term ecological risk to local marine ecosystems through marine
pollution,” the research found.
The study showed “there can be quite significant impacts from our stations
locally”, said Jonathan Stark, the lead author and a principal research
scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division.
The sediment quality guidelines had been developed for temperate and tropical
ecosystems, Stark said. “We don’t really have equivalent guidelines for
Antarctica, so in a way it’s a best guess.”
Environmental management practices on Antarctica have improved since the
protocol on environmental protection to the Antarctic treaty came into force in
1998. But historical practices have “resulted in a legacy of environmental
contamination”, the research noted."
*** Xanni ***
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Manager, Serious Cybernetics