Despite being shut out of the Princess Elizabeth polar station in the Antarctic by the Science Policy Administration (Belspo), Alain Hubert is still preparing for the 2015-2016 mission. However, it is now with the International Polar Foundation (IPF), of which he is President. The federal administration is also planning a competing expedition, Le Soir reported on Wednesday. “It’s like two cars driving straight towards each other. Neither of the drivers wants to be the first to give in and swerve out of the way”, an official said.
“Due to recent changes in Belgium’s science policy, the station has become an international research station and will no longer belong to one country”, the IPF said in an email addressed to the scientists who are planning to stay at the Belgian station. It told its members to book their place by paying the cost of their stay in advance.
The State Secretary for Science, Elke Sleurs (New Flemish Alliance), seems to think the issue will resolve itself. “What the Foundation says is incorrect. The polar station was given to Belgium, which owns 999 thousandths of it. Symbolically, the IPF still has a share”, the cabinet says. It also said the Foundation’s position is contrary to international law, which bans any private activity in the Antarctic.