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Environ Pollut. 2004;127(3):315-21.

Distribution of sewage pollution around a maritime Antarctic research station indicated by faecal coliforms, Clostridium perfringens and faecal sterol markers.

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  • 1British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK.


This study describes the distribution of sewage pollution markers (faecal coliforms, Clostridium perfringens and faecal sterols) in seawater and marine sediments around Rothera Research Station, Antarctic Peninsula. Untreated sewage waste has been released from this site since 1975, creating the potential for long-term contamination of the benthic environment. Faecal coliform concentrations in seawater reached background levels within 300 m of the outfall. In sediment cores, both C. perfringens and faecal coliform concentrations declined with distance from the outfall, though C. perfringens persisted at greater depths in the sediment. High concentrations of 5beta(H)-cholestan-3beta-ol (coprostanol) relative to the corresponding 5alpha-epimer (cholestanol), indicative of sewage pollution, were only found in sediments within 200 m of the sewage outfall. This study has shown that sewage contamination is limited to the immediate vicinity of the sewage outfall. Nevertheless, a sewage treatment plant was installed in February 2003 to reduce this contamination further.

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