The North Slope region of Alaska, recently gaining worldwide attention because of significant petroleum discoveries, is a case where the development of an arctic area is being closely regulated. Most activities on the Slope are presently within a 50-mile area of the Arctic Ocean, thus the situation is analogous to that found along any other estuarine location. This paper deals with the broad subject of water pollution control in the arctic environment. A discussion of the existing techniques used for the degradation of domestic sewage covers the use of lagoons (the most rudimentary treatment technique), the activated sludge process, and incineration. Since much of the American true Arctic does not appear to have the potential for the development of communities as are common in the more temperate regions, the rationale for different standards of effluent quality are discussed for the various types of developments; temporary camps, permanent base camps, small villages, and mobile exploratory operations. A topic which cannot be ignored when discussing waste effluents is the receiving stream (or other body of water). Protection of indigenous species, man himself, and the ultimate sink (the Arctic Ocean) must be correlated with the amount and strength of the waste materials themselves. The implications of ice-covered streams, low winter flows, sporadic and often unpredictable biological activity, and variations in the treatment processes are discussed. A continuing controversy regarding the ability of biological waste treatment processes, particularly the activated sludge method, to operate effectively at low water temperatures is discussed, concluding that the process is just as efficient at 1 degree C as at 20 degrees C with regard to the removal of Biochemical Oxygen Demand. Supporting evidence for this conclusion is derived from the open literature and from unpublished findings of research performed at the University of Alaska's Institute of Water Resources. Because many natural phenomena are inadequately understood in the Arctic regions, a section of the paper deals with those parameters which should be more adequately defined in order to make the solution to pollution problems a rational undertaking, based upon facts rather than assumptions and/or conjecture. A case in point is: "What is the assimilative capacity for an arctic stream or estuary for domestic wastes?" The paper concludes with a plan for the management of water quality for the North Slope area of Alaska. Complete waste treatment facilities are recommended for permanent facilities, waste segregation for temporary facilities, holding ponds for areas adjacent to sensitive (biologically) waters, and minimum treatment for mobile facilities. The rationale for the conclusions are based upon present experiences with the oil industry on Alaska's North Slope.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract of paper delivered at the First International Conference on "Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions" held at Trondheim, Norway, August 23-30, 1971
  • Corporate Authors:

    POAC Conference

  • Authors:
    • Murphy, R S
  • Publication Date: 1971-8-23

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00025683
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Arctic Institute of North America
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 28 1973 12:00AM