HC Deb 05 March 2003 vol 400 cc1056-7W
Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make an assessment of the practicability of using the services of Vivendi Environmental to help clean up British Antarctica. [100363]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the UK's Antarctic operator, is undertaking a major clean-up of its abandoned bases and waste dumps in British Antarctic Territory.

The clean-up work being carried out by BAS of British wastes in British Antarctic Territory will be completed by 2005, as required by the permit issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under the Antarctic Act 1994. It is being undertaken in partnership with a British civil engineering company, Morrison International, and has been very successful. For further information see the BAS web site (www.antarctica.ac.uk/environment).

The BAS has not been contacted by Vivendi Environmental regarding clean-up in Antarctica.

Clean up of stations operated by other countries in the British Antarctic Territory is the legal responsibility of those foreign operators. The practicability of Vivendi Environmental removing the wastes of foreign operators would therefore be for those foreign operators to assess.

Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what systems are in place(a) to prevent the depositing of waste and (b) to secure the removal of deposited waste in British Antarctica. [100364]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The UK has a comprehensive system of legal and practical measures to ensure that wastes are not deposited in British Antarctic Territory (BAS) and instead are removed for safe disposal outside of the region.

The Antarctic Act 1994, together with the Antarctic Regulations 1995, regulate all UK activities in Antarctica by way of a permit system administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This ensures that all UK expeditions to Antarctica, including the British Antarctic Survey, are legally obliged to remove all wastes, other than biodegradable wastes (e.g. sewage), arising from their activities.

The BAS is one of the leaders in environmental and waste management in Antarctica. It has effective systems in place on its research stations and vessels to separate, compact and remove all solid and hazardous wastes. The wastes are re-used, recycled or disposed of safely in the Falkland Islands or in the UK. The BAS is currently in the final stages of building a biological sewage treatment plant at its Rothera Research Station.