Dangerous arrival to Belgian polar station in Antarctica amid legal dispute
Tuesday, 08 November 2016
Alain Hubert has arrived with his team to the station Hubert, 63, a Belgian explorer and mountaineer, is one of the founders of the International Polar Foundation (IPF) who initiated and built the Princess Elisabeth polar station in Antarctica to monitor climate change.
The landing at the polar station during last weekend was described by IPF as extremely dangerous. According to Le Soir (7 November), Hubert and his team found the station in a bad state, with heavy snow on the roofs which could have caused them to collapse.
The IPF tells The Brussels Times that keys to vehicles and other property of the IPF were not found after another team had been at the station last year. “This team was engaged directly by the Belgian state, which might have flouted the rules on public procurement, as the call for tender had been cancelled.”
The legal dispute between IPF and the Belgian secretary of state for science policy, Elke Sleurs, continued. L´Echo reported last Saturday (5 November) that her staff had accused Alain Hubert and his team of acting without “any mandate” from the Belgian government.
This was rejected by IPF. “The Council of State (Belgium’s supreme administrative court) has confirmed that IPF is the operator of the station. Furthermore, an environmental permit for its mission to Antarctica during 2016 – 2017 has been approved by the Federal Environment Minister, Marie-Christine Marghem (MR).”