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An analysis of environmental incidents for a national Antarctic program


Brooks, ST and Jabour, J and Sharman, AJ and Bergstrom, DM, An analysis of environmental incidents for a national Antarctic program, Journal of Environmental Management, 212 pp. 340-348. ISSN 0301-4797 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.024


Research stations in Antarctica are concentrated on scarce ice-free habitats. Operating these stations in the harsh Antarctic climate provides many challenges, including the need to handle bulk fuel and cargo increasing the risk of environmental incidents. We examined 195 reports of environmental incidents from the Australian Antarctic Program, spanning six years, to investigate the impacts and pathways of contemporary environmental incidents. Fuel and chemical spills were most common, followed by biosecurity incursions. The majority of reports were assessed as having insignificant actual impacts. Either the incidents were small, or active, rapid response and mitigation procedures minimised impact. During the period only one spill report (4000 l) was assessed as a ‘high’ impact. This is despite over 13 million litres of diesel utilised. The majority of incidents occurred within the existing station footprints. The pathways leading to the incidents varied, with technical causes predominately leading to spills, and procedural failures leading to biosecurity incursions. The large number of reports with inconsequential impacts suggest an effective environmental management system with a good culture of reporting environmental incidents. Our findings suggest that the key to continual improvement in an ongoing environmental management system is to learn from incidences and take action to prevent them occurring again, with an end-goal of minimising the residual risk as much as possible.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctica, incidents, accidents, spills, biosecurity, footprint
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental knowledges and management
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental knowledges
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Brooks, ST (Mr Shaun Brooks)
UTAS Author:Jabour, J (Dr Julia Jabour)
ID Code:124501
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2018-02-23
Last Modified:2018-11-26

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