A MELTING Glacier in Alaska could release 66 tonnes of hikers faeces as it begins to melt.
The Kahiltna glacier is coming out of a deep freeze and could soon reveal all the poo that climbers have left behind along with all the parasites, pathogens and toilet paper that have been festering there.
John Pennell/Wikimedia Commons Almost half a century of faecal excrement has built up under the glacier
The glacier can be found in the Denali National Park and has been a popular tourist attraction for decades because it is home to North America’s highest peak.
As the park has no convenient amenities, explorers just used the glacier as a natural loo.
However, a new study has highlighted the negative impact of the faeces on the environment, along with issues with the waste management strategy of the park and the fact that tonnes of human faeces could go crashing towards the sea.
As climate change continues to cause glaciers to melt at alarming speeds, half a century of waste could start appearing at the edge of the glacier any year now.
Bioone.org Hikers are now required to use a Clean Mountain Can for any excretions
A tsunami of poo isn’t going to happen but the exposure of faecal bacteria and potential diseases could result in a major health and safety hazard.
Six of the seven guided tour companies which take tourists hiking in Denali are now enforces new rules and practices.
In the 1970s, park rangers accommodated visitors by digging latrines straight into the glacier ice.
Bioone.org The red dots on these maps of the glacier show which areas have been contaminated
The first steps to improving sanitation took place in 2001 when the National Park Service worked with the American Alpine Club to promote a transportable toilet called the Clean Mountain Can.
Every climber is now handed one of these cans on arrival and is expected to use.
They can each be used up to 12 times.
However, hikers can’t be expected to carry all their excrement with them on long treks so they are permitted to drop any excess into a single sign-posted crevasse.
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