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geraldton port dredging update

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    Media Release
    15 August 2003
    Port brings on extra dredge

    The Geraldton Port Authority has received approval from the Department of Environment and Environment Australia to utilise one of the world’s largest dipper dredges to aid a speedy completion of dredging works for the Port Enhancement Project.

    Chief Executive Officer John Durant said the GPA would employ Houben Marine Contractor’s Obscured By Clouds (OBC) to carry out works along parts of the edges of the channel still requiring dredging.

    “OBC cuts rather than grinds so it will cause less turbidity in the water as well as working in with the Leonardo da Vinci to complete the project in the most timely manner achievable,” Mr Durant said.

    “Since being advised by the dredging contractor that they could no longer meet the August 31 contract deadline, we have done everything possible to make sure that the project does not extend too far into the coming seagrass growing season.

    “Even before this time we were monitoring and modifying the dredging program to ensure that the best environmental management practices and most efficient methods were being employed. For example, changes to the roles of the barges Pinta and Nina have increased efficiency and decreased the amount of turbidity in the water.

    Concerns have been expressed about turbidity and its effect on seagrass. However, our monitoring shows that plumes from the dredging have caused less stress on the seagrasses than was originally predicted in the project’s Public Environment Review.

    Recent diving in the area has revealed excellent visibility, with no evidence that the seagrass is being smothered by sediments.

    There will be some effects from the dredging, but these will be naturally rectified, mostly, in the short to medium term.” he said.

    Seagrass make up a small but very important part of the vegetation of Champion Bay - an environment the GPA values enormously.

    We are now more than 80% through the project and in the best case scenario, it will be completed by the end of September, in the worst case by mid-November.”

    Mr Durant said bringing on OBC came at a significant expense to the GPA but the environment had to be given the highest priority.

    “The Port can’t function without a healthy Champion Bay and we have taken all measures required of us, and are now doing even more, to ensure the protection of this environment,” he said.

    The GPA has volunteered to carry out additional monitoring and reporting to meet the requirements of the Department of Environment in these final stages of the Port Enhancement Project.

    As a new initiative the Port will hold weekly public briefing sessions and increase the frequency of the “Champion Bay Comment” in local newspapers.

    The first of these public briefing sessions will be held at 10am on Tuesday, August 19 at the GPA offices on Marine Terrace. The meetings will be conducted by the Port Enhancement Project Dredge & Construction Manager Bill Carlton.

    “As the Port Enhancement Project draws to a close, we invite the community to attend these meetings and be fully informed of the project’s progress,” Mr Carlton said.

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