Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Contamination of the marine environment by Antarctic research stations: monitoring marine pollution at Casey station from 1997 to 2015 (#39)

Jonathan Stark 1
  1. Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, TAS, Australia

The majority of Antarctic research stations are situated in coastal areas, yet the extent and nature of contamination in adjacent marine environments has not been well documented. We examined pollution of marine sediments around Casey Station, a typically sized station on the coast in east Antarctica. Concentrations of metals, hydrocarbons, PBDEs, PCBs and nutrients were measured at disturbed locations including adjacent to the wastewater outfall, former waste disposal sites, the Casey Wharf, and at multiple control locations. We examined spatial and temporal variation in sediment properties (grain size, organic matter) and contaminants. Monitoring between 1997 and 2015 shows that there is considerable pollution of the marine environment, and contaminant concentrations are increasing in some areas. Despite sometimes very large variation within locations there were very clear patterns of differences in contamination profiles among locations, with the disturbed locations having consistently higher concentrations of most contaminants and also nutrients in some cases. Some contaminants exceeded a range of internationally used sediment quality guideline values, including metals, hydrocarbons and PCBs. One particular location, Brown Bay, adjacent to a former waste disposal site, was classified as severely polluted, comparable to some of the largest and most heavily contaminated harbours in the world.