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News Story - Power-down at British Antarctic Survey Halley Research Station - Statement

Date: 06 Aug 2014

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is dealing with a serious operational incident at its Halley Research Station. On Wednesday 30 July 2014 a major technical issue resulted in the station losing its electrical and heating supply for 19 hours. All 13 station staff are safe and in good health.

Our urgent priority is to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of the wintering team. Power and some heating are back online, and some other essential services have been restored, but the staff are having to live and work in extremely difficult conditions. The station has had good satellite communications throughout the incident. Contingency plans for alternative accommodation on site are in place and ancillary buildings are being made ready in case of a further power-down.

It is now clear that because of the nature of the incident, and the prolonged loss of power, the station cannot now return to normal operation in the short or medium term. Everyone at Halley and Cambridge is doing everything that can be done to ensure that the incident remains under control.

All science, apart from meteorological observations essential for weather forecasting, has been stopped.

ENDS

Issued by the BAS Press Office:

Linda Capper, Tel: +44 (0)1223 221448; Mobile: 07714 233744; Email: lmca@bas.ac.uk

Paul Seagrove, British Antarctic Survey, tel: +44 (0)1223 221 414; mobile: +44 (0)7736 921 693; email: psea@bas.ac.uk

Rachel Law, tel: +44 (0)1223 221437; mobile: +44 (0)7740 822 229; email: raclaw@bas.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

More information will be released in due course.

British Antarctic Survey (BAS), an institute of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. For more information visit www.antarctica.ac.uk.

BAS Halley Research Station is on the Brunt Ice Shelf and is the centre for atmospheric science programmes. 

Thirteen research and support staff are ‘wintering’ there at present. 

Medical facilities at Halley include a surgery with emergency facilities.  There is a full-time doctor at the station to deal with general health care and emergencies, with specialist medical support from UK.

There are comprehensive risk assessment and safety procedures for research station activities.