The MV Ushuaia, a tourist cruise ship, ran aground in Cape Anna, Antarctica on December 4. Fortunately, all the passengers are safe and are on their way home. It also appears that a small fuel spill has also been contained and won't harm nearby penguin and blue-eyed shags. But we don't really have any clear information on how much fuel has been spilled and what plans are in place to prevent more fuel from leaking.
The main problem, as ASOC sees it, is that tourism continues to grow in Antarctica with little oversight by the Antarctic Treaty Parties. The MV Ushuaia had an experienced crew and a ship in good condition, as well as favorable weather conditions. But as tourism expands, new companies lacking in experience will no doubt enter the industry. Tour operators are also trying to bring ships with thousands of passengers (many cruises now are in the hundreds, the Ushuaia had under 200 passengers) into the Antarctic. These ships carry heavy fuel oil that could be extremely harmful to marine life. More people, bigger ships, and less experience could create very serious problems in the event of an accident.
The treacherous Antarctic environment requires extreme caution from travelers. Now is the time for the Antarctic Treaty system and the International Maritime Organization to develop and enforce regulations that will protect humans and the environment.