Antarctica New Zealand’s wastewater treatment plant was commissioned into service in the 2001/02 Antarctic summer season. The plant was the result of over two years of work by Antarctica New Zealand operations and environmental staff with the help of external specialists. While the technology used is not unique, the plant was specially designed in New Zealand to meet the particular needs of wastewater treatment at Scott Base in Antarctica.
Scott Base produces 17, 000 litres of wastewater per day. The wastewater plant treats all human waste and grey water (eg. washing water) produced at Scott Base by a process of screening, clarifying, biological treatment and finally disinfecting. In future some of the treated water produced by the plant may then be recycled for use in flushing toilets.
The new system exceeds the requirements of international agreements for environmental protection in force in Antarctica. The existing wastewater outfall appears to have had only a slight and highly localised effect on the environment, but the very small risk of uptake of pathogens or genetic material from wastewater by native organisms was considered potentially serious. Ultraviolet disinfection before disposal of treated wastewater will mitigate this risk.