Antarctica is often envisaged as a pristine environment, but due to a historic lack of environmental awareness, human activities in the last two centuries have left this region with oil spills, abandoned research stations, and about 1 million cubic meters of contaminated soils. These contaminated sites continue to leach fuels and toxic metals through rock and surface waters and are reaching environmental receptors such as penguin rookeries and fluorescent underwater ecosystems. But with an improved understanding of the consequences this can cause, scientists and engineers are starting to combine forces to remediate these regions such that Antarctica can return to the pristine conditions that it once displayed.
In conjunction with collaborators including the Australian Antarctic Division and Macquarie University, we have been developing suitable for the clean-up of these contaminated sites and ultimately put an end to the migration of fuels. Technologies developed include Permeable Reactive Barriers (PRB’s) for the containment of migrating fuel and heavy metals, water treatment containers, soil stabilisation technologies and electrokinetic oxidation methods are to breakdown contaminants in situ.