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

Date: 12 Aug 2014

The 13 members of staff at Halley Research Station continue to remain safe and well following the power-down incident on 30 July 2014.

The power-down was caused by a large coolant leak from the main arterial pipe in the station heating system which led to the generators overheating and shutting down.

After the initial incident, the Halley team worked round-the-clock and was able to restore power and some heating to the station.

At present the power supply is being kept at a stable load while the Halley technical team continue to check, test and re-enable engineering systems on the station.  

The leak in the main arterial pipe is beyond repair, so the coolant in the heating system has been drained down.  Access to the pipe has been very difficult because of very low outside temperatures (at times minus 55 degrees centigrade).  Scientific instruments that are used for atmospheric research remain switched off so that the electrical energy can be used to heat the living accommodation.

Planned station engineering and research for the forthcoming season is being rescheduled. 

Director of BAS, Professor Jane Francis said

“I am pleased that the situation is under control.  Wintering in Antarctica is always tough, and requires professionalism and personal resilience. The team at Halley is demonstrating to all of us that they have what it takes, and how well a team can work together in these extreme conditions. I believe that they are doing a fantastic job, with support from the Cambridge team.”

The wintering Halley Base Commander John Eager is leading and coordinating work at the research station. He said,

“Our first concern is always the safety and wellbeing of the team here. We are doing our utmost to protect, preserve and maintain as much of the station infrastructure as possible so that scientific work can be restarted in the coming summer season.”

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.

The Halley summer season runs from October to March