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China Promises Environment Friendly Expansion in Antarctica

China's largest-ever development project of its two Antarctic research stations will make them more energy efficient and environment friendly, said an official with the State Oceanic Administration on Tuesday.

"We have given full consideration to energy and environmental issues since we were in the planning phase of the expansion project," said Wei Wenliang, Party Secretary of the administration's Polar Research Office.

A total of 189 construction workers left from Shanghai on Tuesday for the biggest expansion of the two permanent Antarctic stations -- Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan -- and 188 members of the country's 24th scientific expedition team will leave on Nov. 12.

The expansion plans include improved day-lighting and thermal insulation, and heating facilities will be installed or altered to improve efficiency.

Rooms for researchers to stay during summer and winter will be in separate divisions and some of the rooms will be closed during wintertime to save energy, said Wei.

"All the materials we consume are shipped from home, so making energy efficient buildings means both lower operating costs and a direct cut on pollution," Wei said.

Changcheng Station was founded in 1985 and Zhongshan Station in 1989, both within the outer region of Antarctica coastline. Wei said earlier that because of technological limitations in the 1980s, the construction material for the two stations was not satisfactory and parts of the building have been corroded.

The workers, all from the China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG), will construct 10 projects in two to three years, including a space observation station, garage, warehouse, garbage and sewage disposal systems, a boiler house, high-frequency radar room and oil tank.

New information technology will be applied in the new facilities, with satellite TV, local area network and the Internet all in place to help information exchanges.

To protect the Antarctic environment, the group has built advanced sewage treatment systems and garbage burning facilities. Non-degradable and solid waste is shipped back home for treatment.

Strict environmental protection rules were also imposed on China's scientific exploration ship "Xuelong", or "snow dragon", and dumping garbage in the ocean is forbidden.

China's third research station on Antarctica will be built at the highest point of the Polar icecap, which peaks 4,300 meters above sea level, a point known as Dome A. This will be China's first research station in the inland area of Antarctica.

(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2007)

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