Prettier, Cleaner Antarctica

Do you here that thump-thump? That is just me patting myself on the back. Over the last few days I have had several opportunities to make Antarctica cleaner, and I have taken them all. That’s right I have picked up garbage.

Go, team go! Clean that continent.

Here on Station there is a strong tradition of “Daisy Picking.” No there aren’t any actual daisies here. When an office takes time from their busy schedule to go pick up any loose garbage that may have blown over towards their building, it is known as “daisy picking”. I had a chance to help an office with daisy picking earlier in the week. Sorry no photos, I was too busy making Antarctica a cleaner continent. 🙂

A view of the less buried side of the plane

Later in the week I was asked to go help with a more extensive clean up effort. In 1970 a Pegasus airplane crashed at one of the runway near the station. All 80 people on board survived, and only a few had minor injuries. The plane, however was totaled and was eventually moved from its original crash location to somewhere out of the way. It has sat in this out of the way place for decades, filling will snow and ice.

A view of the back half of the plane... Yes I know very silly of me not to get a shot of the entire plane.

Yay I'm flying... what we are still on the ground? I guess that is why it is so easy to keep my seat.

Recently, members of the environmental department noticed that there was a lot of debris near the plane. After digging around in the top layers of the ice (which is over 200 ft thick at the site of the plane and debris), they realized that they had found a lot of forgotten “stuff” that was not related to the initial plane crash. Throughout this summer season, they have been going out there collecting as much debris as they could. The rising summer temperatures has made this a bit easier. As the ice melts more “stuff” is uncovered and can be removed. The environmental department here has collected several pallets of garbage from the the site. All of this garbage will be added to the Station’s waste stream. It will be boxed up and sent away on the yearly supply ship for proper disposal.

Its nice to know that some people still follow directions. Although, I think these cuts were made long after the crash. Photos taken shortly after the crash so that at least one of the exits with stairs still worked.

I went with the Enviros on their last trip out for the season to collect debris near the crashed plane. No one is really sure of the origin of the debris, so it was a bit like a treasure hunt for me. It was amazing to see what survived in tact. I have a few pictures, but not many because… I was busy making Antarctica a cleaner continent. 🙂

My prize find, part of an MRE. An MRE is a "Meal Ready to Eat". The armed forces provide these for all of their troops in the field. The Navy used to run Operations in Antarctica under the title "Operation Deep Freeze". You can tell that the MRE is rather old. For many reasons, the military stopped including tobacco in their MRE's many years ago. This "condiment kit" of the MRE has been buried in the ice for decades, but the matches still work (yes I lit one) !

In case you were wondering, we also found a mystery novel (wet but still intact), toilet paper, spoons,  cans of food, lots of wood, wires and insulation.

4 thoughts on “Prettier, Cleaner Antarctica

  1. Hi Adrian — Great pictures! Is all that debris in the first picture from Antartic researchers and tourists? Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  2. Hi Caitlin,

    Actually, we have no idea where the debris came from. Given what we found, we think it was from operations conducted decades ago. It’s funny how people can forget a giant pile of debris for decades.

  3. Hi Linda,

    One of the other folks out there saved the book. She plans to dry it if not read it. It was an Agatha Christie paperback marked at $0.45! I forgot to look for a printing date, but it was obviously a while ago

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