Former ?tickie? pities Baryulgil asbestos miners
By DAWN COHEN
JOHN WARD can't walk to his own gate without gasping for air, but it is the former miners at the James Hardie asbestos mine at Baryulgil he really pities.
The 80-year-old carted asbestos from the mine for the Tick Control Board to fill dipping yards in the 1970s.
"It is the black fellas I feel sorry for," he said from his Ballina home.
"They worked the mine, and they were given no protective clothing.
"They were snow white from the stuff (asbestos)."
The NSW Dust Diseases Board screened former miners at Baryulgil last week.
However, Mr Ward has never been offered screening.
Mr Ward said he and 700 other local men employed by the Tick Control Board in 1954 handled DDT, arsenic, asbestos and other toxins without protective garments. Only three are still alive, he said.
"His clothes were saturated in the poisons when I washed them," said his 77-year-old wife, Gwen.
Mr Ward was treated for dip poisoning three times by Lismore doctor Peter Stewart. Poor lungs forced him to retire about 20 years ago.
Eighteen months ago, an operation at Lismore Base hospital removed a hard pellet from his lungs, but doctors did not test for asbestosis, the couple said.
Mr Ward said Tick Control Board employees were instructed to dump dip toxins anywhere they could not be seen. He dumped toxins in Kyogle reserves and knows of cement tanks in Wollongbar filled up to ground level with the cancer-causing substances.
Towards the end of his time with the Tick Control Board, he was given some protective gear: a pair of overalls and some boots.
"You only washed them twice a week because we were camping," Mr Ward said.
"And the boots filled with dip."
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