Canberra: Marine pollution at Australia’s largest Antarctic research station exceeded international guidelines for almost 20 years.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) researchers on Thursday published the results of marine sediment analysis around Casey station from 1997 to 2015, reports Xinhua news agency.
It revealed that levels of multiple contaminants, including arsenic, lead and cadmium, exceeded international quality standards for the period.
At locations disturbed by humans the analysis found consistently higher concentrations of contaminants.
“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 study said.
Established in 1969 and located about 3,800 km south of Perth, Casey is the largest of the AAD’s three research stations on the continent.
Scientists, led by AAD principal research scientist Jonathan Stark, monitored pollution at wastewater outfalls, two former waste disposal sites and the wharf area as well as control locations, measuring the presence of metals, hydrocarbons, nutrients, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and fire retardant chemicals.
Until 1986, solid waste from Casey was disposed of at a dump site on the foreshore of the nearby Brown Bay.
The research found one of the dumps, which was removed in 2004, “could not have been at a worse place for the environment”.
Stark said a new project is expected to ensure only pure water runs off into the ocean within years.
“Raising awareness of the contamination risks associated with Antarctic stations and implementing monitoring programs for marine environments adjacent to these stations can contribute to informed decision making and the improvement of environmental management practices in Antarctica,” he said.