Antarctic waste clean-up to gather pace
MELBOURNE - Australia said last week it would accelerate the clean-up of decades of waste threatening Antarctica\'s environment after a donation of specialised containers from a French firm.
France\'s Vivendi Environnement said it would provide 240 specially modified containers and its services to help in the removal of an estimated 300,000 tonnes of waste left in Antarctica after a century of exploration and occupation.
More than 40 countries operate in Antarctica, with Australia claiming over 40 percent of the continent.
The Antarctic nations now follow a policy of removing solid waste from their snow-bound bases but waste from past decades remains, including batteries, waste oils and chemicals.
\"When you get away from the bases which are on the periphery it is a pristine continent. Its mystery, its remoteness, the wilderness is stunning,\" Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill told a media conference in Melbourne.
\"It is as if you are on another planet and you can\'t help but feel when you are out in that environment how important it is to maintain it in that way.\"
The first shipment of containers will be in December, with the clean-up by Vivendi subsidiary Onyx to focus first on Australia\'s Casey station where there is an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of waste at the Thala Valley tip.
The containers will then be used to clean up other Australian areas and will be made available to the other Antarctic nations over the next 10 years.
The Vivendi offer amounted to a donation of more than US$1 million, Hill said
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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