Thames Laboratories Visit Grytviken Whaling Station in South Georgia
In 2001 Thames Laboratories were commissioned by the British Antarctic Survey to undertake a survey in preparation of a major environmental improvements program at the research station adjacent to Grytviken, a remote former whaling station on the island of South Georgia being famous as the starting point for the Falkland Islands conflict. Alongside this we were asked by the Government of South Georgia to undertake a review of the asbestos at Grytviken.
The resulting asbestos survey identified extensive asbestos and safety issues that were impacting upon the local wildlife and threatened visiting tourists. Over the next 12 months detailed investigations and reports were prepared with the eventual result being that funding was found to remove the asbestos and other environmental hazards from the site and make safe the collapsing building.
With Thames Laboratories experience of the site and the specialist nature of the environment we were retained to help the development of an asbestos abatement strategy. It was decided that the removal at Grytviken would be dealt with by the Chilean division of a US based contractor and work commenced in 2003 with the making safe of the site.
The plan was to make the site safe and to wherever possible retain the unique history of the site in terms of the equipment that was used.
Over a period of 6 months during the austral summer the work was completed, with the contractors and ourselves leaving site in 2004.
In 2010 Thames Laboratories returned to South Georgia on behalf of the Government of South Georgia, this time to assess the asbestos risk at the remaining Whaling Stations on South Georgia and develop strategies to allow the limited numbers of researchers who visit the wilderness to continue in the work they perform, whilst ensuring the risks from asbestos were controlled.
Today Grytviken houses the South Georgia Museum and is visited by several thousand tourists each year.