Environmental monitoring in Antarctic stations: a tool for decision-making and improvement environmental performance. Experience in four Antarctic stations.

Scientific Commite on Antarctic Research: Bienal meeting & Open Science Conference 2016


The environmental monitoring programs are an effective tool for the adoption of mitigation measures in the Antarctic, however the implementation of regular programs is complicated because of the logistical difficulties and techniques. Chile has incorporated into its National Antarctic Program the project Antarctic Center for Research and Environmental Monitoring, CIMAA, which runs under the Department of Chemical Engineering in the University of Magallanes, UMAG. The project has been working with the leading Chileans logistics players to verify the compliance with environmental commitments, using the existing capabilities in Antarctica, and in coordination with laboratories in Punta Arenas. The CIMAA, supported by INACH, has been for four years monitoring four Antarctic Stations wastewater discharges in King George Island (2), and at Cape Legoupil, Antarctic Peninsula (2). The four monitored stations have different technologies for wastewater treatment. The stations are equipped with activated sludge biological systems, electrolysis treatment, biofilters with worms and activated sludge with ultrafiltration membranes. All of them discharge their effluents to the sea in front of the stations. None of them has a specialized spilled system at the pipeline end to facilitate pollutants dispersion. Faecal coliforms turned out to be the best environmental quality control parameter of the effluent and its impact on the environment. Other physicochemical parameters, as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds, organic matter, suspended solids, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and temperature, have also been tested. Monitoring indicated that all treatment plants have operational problems of some kind: Variations in the number of people working at the stations, measurement of parameters not suitable for microbiological quality control, lack of maintenance, Insufficient knowledge of how systems work and staff turnover. Both stations at Cape Legoupil managed to improve quality of discharges when Staff training, proper maintenance of both treatment systems and regular effluents and environment monitoring were implemented. It is important improve quality effluents and environment monitoring using suitable parameters that clearly illustrate the impact of the discharges to the environment. Additionally, wastewater treatment plants maintenance and operation staff should get proper training, enhancing their skills and expertise. Should be promoted the exchange of information on best available technologies for wastewater treatment in Antarctica, and operational care requirements.

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Fecha de publicación: 2016
Año de Inicio/Término: 20 - 30 Agosto 2016
Página final: 1055