What does a plumber do in Antarctica?
Prior to heading south, family, friends and work colleagues all ways asked me what do you do down there work wise. My response is plumbing to their displeasure. So I'll expand on this and shed a bit of light on the plumbing team and our day to day duties.
This year down at Mawson, I am part of an elite team of plumbers - the envy of the other trade groups and fellow exerditioners on station. The A team, as we are often referred to, consisting of our fearless leader A-ron (has dual trades plumbing and electrical, which we don't hold against him), young Tinder, or Tabasco Todd, and me.
One of the most important daily tasks is water production. The water comes from an icy well at the top of station where a submerged melt bell containing a pump, circulates heated water preventing the water in the well from freezing. Then with a flick of a switch, a series of valves open, transferring water to the storage tanks.
At the other end of the station, we carry out daily checks on the waste water treatment plant, making sure the ever reliable chocolate wheels are turning doing their thing (when operating as designed, it shimmers like a fondo fountain). All this water and waste water is moved around station through a series of insulated pipes referred to as site services, which we maintain and repair when issues arise. In between these main tasks we look after the heating, fire sprinkler system, medical gases, oil fired burners, heat exchangers, hose reels, hydrants and the list goes on.
One of the attractions working down south, is we get the opportunity to work on services we might not normally be exposed to on the mainland and the view from they office is pretty good too.
Wayne Phillips, Hydraulic Surgeon