Cleaning up Antarctica

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, the station complex was redeveloped in 2005 and old buildings demolished and removed;
  • 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 as their own research stations and therefore reducing the need for new buildings to be constructed in Antarctica. Former UK stations Hope Bay Station D has been transferred to Uruguay, Faraday Station F is now operated by the Ukraine and Adelaide Station T and View Point Station V have been transferred to Chile.

The Protocol’s clean up requirements exclude Historic Sites and Monuments designated under the Antarctic Treaty system. Designations of UK retired stations and huts which are now recognised for their heritage values include Port Lockroy Station A (Historic Site No. 61), Wordie House Station F (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 Island Station W (Historic Site No. 83) Damoy Hut (Historic Site No. 84) and Deception Island Station B (Historic Site No. 71).