31 October, 1998
Saturday, October 31st, 1998
Hi everyone! Happy Halloween! I had to get up early today to attend a seminar on "waste management"...otherwise known as "garbage school." I was a little bummed because it was only offered at 8:00 AM and I was at the computer lab until after midnight last night. But...these things are important to a clean, safe continent...so when duty calls...
As in the case of most informational talks we've had so far, there was a short video first. It provided details in regard to WHY it is so important to keep Antarctica clean and what WE can all do to help minimize our impact here and take care of our trash. Three kinds of waste were discussed...solid waste, human waste, and hazardous waste. Most of what I need to know involves the first two categories.
I was surprised to learn that almost 5 million pounds of trash is taken out of McMurdo each year by ship. This includes trash that is brought in from field camps. Huge containers of carefully sorted, compacted, and labeled trash is shipped BACK to the United States for proper disposal. Waste sorting stations are available ALL over McMurdo Station, encouraging everyone here to recycle and sort their own trash, so that someone else doesn't have to do it. 100% of solid and hazardous waste is removed from the continent, and landfills are not used.
Back in 1991 new waste management practices were put into place. Up until that time, a lot of trash was left lying around...but it doesn't decay or go anywhere...so Antarctica needed help. It is protected by law, and source reduction and waste minimization programs went into effect. Over 12,000 tons of waste have been removed from facilities in the last 5 years. Also in the past 5 years, the recycling rate has averaged 60% and the diversion rate 74%. The United States average is only 26%...so they are doing a much better job here in Antarctica! They NEED to in order to keep the continent one of the cleanest places on Earth!
Since the drilling at Cape Roberts was interrupted earlier this week and has just recently started up again, there are no new core samples coming into McMurdo right now. They do expect new samples soon...maybe later on Sunday, but until that time, I really can't get started on taking measurements. I am using the time to familiarize myself with McMurdo and to take some photographs of the town.
It is very cloudy today and much colder. There was a very light snow blowing around when we went to lunch, but that has stopped. If the weather clears there are some folks from CRP going on a hike tomorrow. I might also hike over to the New Zealand base (Scott Base) which is a couple of miles away. Their store is open tomorrow and I want to see what kinds of souvenirs I can pick up. There is a shuttle that goes back and forth from McMurdo to Scott Base most everyday. That helps out, especially when the weather turns colder or windier while you are over there...and it would be a miserable hike back.
I am ready to go back to the dorms and get ready for the annual McMurdo Halloween party in the "gym." I don't have a costume (didn't have room to pack one) but I still want to go and check it out. Talk to you tomorrow.
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