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Wastewater treatment in Antarctica

  • M. A. Connor
Abstract

Since the exploration of Antarctica began, procedures for dealing with human wastes have changed considerably. The establishment of research stations made it necessary to provide for sewage disposal. However, the introduction of advanced wastewater treatment processes has been driven largely by an intensifying concern to protect the Antarctic environment. A key step was the adoption by Antarctic Treaty nations of the so-called Madrid Protocol, in which minimum standards for sewage treatment and disposal are prescribed. The provisions of this protocol are not particularly onerous and some countries have elected to go beyond them, and to treat Antarctic research station wastewater as they would at home. Transferring treatment technologies to Antarctica is not simple because the remoteness, isolation, weather and other local conditions impose a variety of unusual constraints on plant design. The evolution of advanced treatment plant designs is examined. Most countries have opted for biofilm-based processes, with Rotating Biological Contactors (RBC) favoured initially while more recently contact aeration systems have been preferred. Sludges are now generally repatriated, with a diversity of sludge dewatering techniques being used. The evolution of treatment process designs is expected to continue, with growing use, especially at inland stations, of sophisticated processes such as membrane technologies and thermally efficient evaporative techniques.

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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
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