MOUNT EVEREST BIOGAS PROJECT
Mount Everest Biogas Project (MEBP), launched in 2010, is a volunteer-run, non-profit organisation that has designed an environmentally sustainable solution to the impact of human waste on Mount Everest and other high altitude locations. MEBP won the UIAA Mountain Protection Award in 2017. This year was set to witness significant on-site progress in Nepal but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant hold-ups to the project’s progress.
Mount Everest boasts a massive climbing industry, with hundreds of climbers – and support staff – make the trip up the Khumbu Valley each year (2020 being an obvious exception). This tourism has left a trail of human waste, approximately 12,000 kg per year, that has given way to environmental and public health concerns. MEBP’s proposal is to use an anaerobic biogas digester to treat human waste. It will eliminate dumping of solid human waste and destroy pathogenic fecal coliforms that threaten the health of the local communities – lessening the impact of the tourism industry on a mountain that is sacred to the Nepalese.
The Mt. Everest Biogas Project was designed to address this environmental and health hazard in a sustainable manner and serve as a model for other regions that must deal with similar waste problems at high-altitude, regardless if it is caused by climbers or local communities. The system will convert waste into methane, a renewable natural gas, and a reduced pathogen effluent.
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel, the project has experienced some significant delays. Furthermore, donations and funding have been significantly cut which has had an impact on research and development. As MEBP project head Dr Daniel Mazur explains: “If we are not able to raise the funds soon, then the support we have may erode as the government changes. We may have to begin the process all over again, causing further delays and the tragedy of climbers and Sherpas and Nepalese staff’s untreated waste from Everest Base Camp could continue unchecked for many years to come.”
Your support could really make a difference.
Further details on the UIAA Mountain Protection Award can be found here. A recent article about Mount Everest Biogas Project, and more on the context of Covid-19, can be found here.