Dec 29

Two contract employees die at NSF’s McMurdo Station

Two fire technicians at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station in Antarctica have been pronounced dead following an incident at a generator building that powers a radio transmitter near the station.

The incident, which still is under investigation, occurred on Dec. 12 local time (McMurdo Station keeps New Zealand time).

NSF is not releasing any personal information about the deceased at this time. Their next of kin have been notified.

The workers were performing preventative maintenance on the building’s fire suppression system. They were found unconscious on the building’s floor by a helicopter pilot. The pilot was on the ground and the helicopter was shut down, waiting for technicians to complete their work. When they did not return to the helicopter at the agreed-upon time, the pilot hiked up to the hut to check on them. They were removed from the building and CPR was administered. One person was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel who arrived from the McMurdo clinic. The other was flown to the McMurdo clinic and pronounced dead there a short time later.

The workers were employed by PAE, a Virginia-based subcontractor to Leidos, the Colorado-based logistics contractor to the NSF-managed U.S. Antarctic Program.