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Antarctic base to be extended
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China is sending 189 construction workers on its 24th scientific expedition to Antarctica in mid-November to expand two scientific research stations.

The workers, all from the China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG), will help extend the two permanent stations named Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan, Xinhua learned on Monday at a ceremony to send off the workers.

They will leave for the South Pole from Shanghai on Tuesday on the a scientific exploration ship "Xuelong", or "snow dragon". Ten projects are to be constructed, including a space observation station, garage, warehouse, garbage and sewage discharge system, boiler house, high-frequency radar room and oil tanker.

The projects, aimed at meeting the demands of scientific research, living conditions for exploration team members and environmental conservation, would 3,880 square meters and be completed in two to three years, sources said.

"It is the first time for China to conduct large-scale construction there with modern building materials," a source said, adding the expansion would greatly enhance China's overall exploration of the Antarctic area.

CRCEG workers had been the South Pole with scientists on five previous occasions since 2002, mainly to oversee logistic supply for the two stations, and had gained much experience in working under tough conditions.

Work would only be conducted from December to February, the Antarctic summer, the company said. It had set up a logistical base in Shanghai and mapped a detailed project plan to ensure the Antarctic environment would be protected.

The Chinese scientific expedition team, comprising 219 explorers, will fix the site of China's third scientific research station at the South Pole, a planned observatory with seven telescopes and one acoustic radar at Dome A, the highest point on the continent at 4,093 meters above sea level.

China launched its first expedition to the Antarctic in 1984.

(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2007)

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