George Murphy, Supervisor Electrician
How would you describe your job to a 5th grader?
We collect all the pollution put into our water and using different machines and processes we are able to take the pollution out. Then we send that water back out into the rivers and oceans clean enough that fish are happy to live in it.My job is to make sure that all the electricity needed to make everything work is always available. We also have to fix the various machines when they don't work. Sometime when the electricity doesn't come from Con Edison we have to turn on our own Generators so that we can still have enough electricity to power the machines and still clean the water. Even if nobody else in the city has power we can still do our job.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
The most interesting part of my job is interacting with all the different people it takes to make this place work. We have people with all different kinds of skills from every part of the world. It's fun to put our heads together and come up with the solutions that will fix a particular problem. I also really like fixing complex machines and processes. We usually have to do a fair amount of reading, manuals and drawings. Then you have to try and figure out what the designer was trying to accomplish by designing something the way he did. Then we have to decide what specifically is causing the machine or process not to work. Then come up with a solution. It is very satisfying to get something to work again as designed.
What is your schedule like?
Electricians work a pretty steady schedule: Monday through Friday, 7:00am to 2:30pm, with half hour lunch. Occasionally something will have to be fixed right away. We will stay after hours or come in the weekend to take care of this.
What is it like to work at the largest wastewater treatment plant?
Working at this large plant is great. There are always interesting things to take care of. You can never get bored.
Has anything exciting happened to you on the job?
Two exciting things happened. One was in 1994 when we had a large coastal storm with high tides. The tide level was actually so high our final tanks were overflowing onto the roadways. We had some new construction underway and the basement of the unfinished building was filling with water, four feet deep in some places. There was an opening into the main building with plywood over it and we were afraid if the water broke through the door it would cause all of our generators to fail. At that time our only source of power was generators. Our job was to maneuver a very large pump into the basement and power it up to drain the basement. We had to make our way through soft mud that was deeper than our boot tops. Anyway, the pump was started and disaster averted.
The next most exciting thing was the big blackout. There were all kinds of problems throughout the system. Whoever was able to come in was then sent out all over the city to take care of the different problems. We worked 16 hour days with no day off for several days. It was very challenging but exciting too.
What is the most important aspect of your job?
As a Supervisor of Electricians in charge of a great group of guys who deal with big problems, the most important aspect of my job is making sure the work gets done in a manner that is safe for my men and those around us.
How long have you worked at the plant?
I started with the DEP January of '89. I have been at Newtown almost all of that time.
Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Staff
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