My life

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: My life
From: John Gamblin <>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 18:56:01 -0800 (PST)
G'day Charles,

Do you think I would get sued if I put this out to the
list? good to hear from you mate, I'll try and send
you some of this Oz sunshine okay :^D

Many, many years ago when men would go underground,
way down into the pits to dig out coal etc., etc.,
they would take with them a bird? normally a songbird
most of the time. If the bird stopped singing in the
semi darkness it would alert the miners. The bird
would pick up changes to the air around them very
quickly. Some would die in their cage, most likely
along with the miners, more then likely from "Coal Gas

When I first read about that, back in my olde UK
school days, I thought, I wonder how they asked the
birds if they minded going down in the mines? silly
thoughts of an innocent lad who thought the goon's
were then real.

Nowadays I think we use birds in a slightly different
way perhaps? cover them in oil to see if the oil is
safe and holds no human nasties in the oil?

Unless your a lady who cleans penguins on Phillip

For many years I was happy working for Lysaght's/now
BHP here in Hastings, forefilling many different roles
of employment.

I started with them as a "Highly prized" UK boiler
house attendant then progressed to running the
services area, this is where liquid wastes and acids
plus oily waste gets treated, the oily waste is
treated, heated, colled and the water taken out and
the oil carted away to be recycled or safely disposed
of? plus a few other processes are used to extract
other nasties. The water is then cleaned further,
aerated more and brought into specifications for
discharging into Western Port Bay.

The crew I headed up held the record for the greatest
number of "safe" discharge hours to Western Port bay.

You tend to take a bit of pride in what you do and
achieve after many years of working shift work hours
in the one area of employment.

There is something very special about being there on
Christmas day hearing the plant groan and moan as she
cools down. Getting to the highest point possible on
your plant with your good souled work mates, to see
the sun rise on that most beautiful bay, on that very
special day, looking down on many different wild
birds, diving, fishing, or just swimming about .... a
real big buzz, believe me.

Time marched on and the workforce voted me in as it's
Health and Safety chairperson. As the Hot Strip Mill
was being built I wandered over on many an occasion
watching it grow and concerned about some of it's
process? I left in disgust after nearly twenty years
when over at the Hot Strip Mill they persisted in
using open air oily water storage tanks .... too many
birds would fly in, sadly never to get out. One day a
heron was totally covered in thick oil and was left to
die near the Roughing Section Scalping Pit, later some
friends and myself tried hard to save the poor thing
but we failed.

Other large open air tanks can be seen when you fly
over the place in a small plane. Some are big whilst
others are small many have open to the air tops. So
many of these are heated. Fumes ain't fumes eh? What
ever happened to the clean air act? most tanks are
heated and give off fumes with no control of the

I thought this might give you an insight into what
goes on behind the scenes so to speak? later on I got
invites to go over to the oil refinery here and help
out with health and safety hazard audits etc etc ...
due I suppose to friendships and respect from those
outside of my own employer? I hope? many a time
problems would be solved and advice taken and accepted
re: Environmental issues.

I worked for many happy years with Bob Smith, present
Vic. Govt. Member of parliament when Bob was the
Health and Safety Chairperson, a very good man, I was
one of his reps.

It took ages to find out that the pretty little
dancing things flickering in the sunlight that beamed
through the boiler house doors that we all breathed in
was in fact asbestos.

Many work mates still call round and see me after
their work ... many a time very late at night or very
early in the morning, I think the world of them all
and would never moan about the time of day because
normally it's about something that is causing a
problem at work? or with them and their work?

Older members of the workforce down there now tell me
of the new management and some of their techniques?
ummm that's nice kind word I suppose? more like how
can we really do things cheaply and not get caught

John A. Gamblin

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