Introducing the new Casey remediation team, helping to look after Antarctica’s environment

New arrivals in remediation team

The Fuel Spill Remediation project has been operating at Casey station since 2005, researching and implementing remediation technologies that have resulted in extensive clean-up of contaminated sites. Each year we have new team members who join us, bringing with them expertise and skills from a range of backgrounds. This year we welcome and introduce Jack Churchill, Vanessa Di Battista, and Bill Santalab.

Jack Churchill

I’m Jack, a PhD student working in the remediation team at Casey this summer. My background is in chemical engineering and I’m running a contaminated water treatment plant that we retrofitted to strip fuel contaminants out of meltwater and biopile leachate. It’s an awesome project to be in Antarctica and work towards preserving the environment, and being able to look out of the window every day and see what an incredible environment it is. ​Travel training was a highlight with my fellow team mates.

Jack has been known to leave the door open to the water treatment plant and his abilities at icing up the system has earned him the nickname ‘Maverick’.

Vanessa (Ness) Di Battista

Another new addition to the team is Ness, working with the team from Queen’s University in Canada. Ness is a second year geoenvironmental PhD student studying the effects of the Antarctic conditions on the performance of the biopile liners that contain soil undergoing remediation. She worked for two years as a tailings dam designer before starting her PhD, and has spent the first year studying and testing liner materials sent to Canada from the Casey biopiles. She now has a much better understanding where all the samples come from and how difficult it is to get them out from under the biopile. Being a Canadian, Ness has tried to learn Aussie slang and added some words of her own to the community vocabulary down here. She reckons that Vegemite on toast is her new favourite snack. Ness is the fifth Canadian to be a part of the remediation team over the last ten years and the first to actually like Vegemite.

Bill Santalab

This is Bill’s first season working with the remediation team. It is not his first season down south, but his first experience at Casey. In a previous life, he has worked as a maintenance planner, but at Casey he is the fabricator of minor and major instruments. Skills required for the current job are welding, machining, plant operating and general maintenance of equipment used by the remediation team on site including pumps, generators and compressors. Bill is enjoying the variety of work and the opportunity to get off station. He is keen to learn from other tradesmen and specialists that live on station. Bill enjoys the challenges the scientists throw at him and the diverse needs in relation to this large, complex remediation project. He does not like to be idle, so we keep sending projects his way knowing the result will always be impressive. Otherwise you can find him reading in the wallow and he is probably on his eleventh novel read by now this season.