At Casey, the importance of building compliance is outlined, there’s a jolly to the sea ice and Misty interviews (kind of) a bungee-jumping engineer.

The Casey compliance project

The compliance project is now well under way here at Casey, with all the main station buildings now having been assessed against the relevant building codes. The project was initially set up to assess the building assets, station infrastructure and services against the ever changing codes, standards and regulatory legislation.

The combination of different building classifications with the unique climate conditions present the compliance audits with interesting results. Given this unusual set of circumstances a certain pragmatic approach has to be taken into account when considering all of the non-compliances that arise.

The condition of the buildings is certainly a testament to the excellent design and quality of construction of the original AANBUS modular system, built in the mid 1980’s by the Australian Construction Services. These buildings have weathered the harshest of conditions very well and are generally still in pretty good shape.

After some 25 to 30 years in these demanding conditions, no matter how robust, things will inevitably start to break down and require heavy maintenance and complete replacement when required

The most common non-compliances are associated with energy efficiency due to the much more onerous requirements that have been introduced into the building codes over recent years, such as thermal efficiency of building fabric, turn down ratio and controllability of heating, ventilation and lighting systems.

Some rectification has already taken place such as removal of equipment and goods from fire isolated stairwells, unblocked emergency egress paths, application of warning signage and correct fire extinguisher selections.

The next phase of the station compliance project is focusing on fall protection, self arrest systems and confined spaces

By the end of this winter season there is no doubt Casey will be left a more compliant, safer and more efficient station.

A day out on the sea ice

Casey station Antarctica is located some 3500km away from the nearest city in Australia (Hobart) and 1400km to our nearest neighbours on the continent (Davis). The reasoning behind every individual’s intentions for visiting such a place varies greatly. Some people come for the isolation and remoteness, others the experience of being somewhere different, some the uniqueness of the job and for many simply looking for the adventure of a lifetime. I have been on the continent since December 2011 and the place is still full of amazing sights to take in. The environment is constantly changing allowing for many different photo and sightseeing opportunities. 

After discussing with the Station Leader the possibility of travelling out onto the sea ice and exploring around the Swain Group of islands approval was sought from Kingston. The Swain group of islands are located 15km to the east of Casey and stretch over a distance of 6km off the coast line. Over summer it is truly an amazing sight from Jacks Hut looking out over the islands, whilst sitting on the roof of the outhouse, admiring the huge array of spectacular shaped icebergs floating by as the sun sets in the distance.

Over the winter the ocean freezes, trapping the icebergs in place and allows us to walk out around such spectacles.  It is certainly one of those days that you will always remember: the different shaped bergs, the amazing colours seen within them, the nervousness of walking out on the sea ice and knowing that the freezing water is only a metre below you.

This week we managed to do this and even had the rare opportunity to see the wildlife that had broken through the ice and was enjoying lazing around in the sun.