Equipment, crews, barges, and surveying equipment are on their way to the BlueScope Steel Wharf at the Port of Hastings ready to carry out the first marine site surveys for the container expansion project.
The Port of Hastings Development Authority, with specialist contractors Worley Parsons and Aurecon, are preparing to begin marine geotechnical and marine geophysical surveys in Western Port from the 9 December 2013 onwards.
CEO Mike Lean said “These surveys will provide the critical information on the seabed conditions of Western Port which are needed to begin three to four years of detailed planning for a new world-class, competitive and sustainable second container port for Victoria.”
Two 17.2m x 12.0m jack up barges will be assembled alongside the Wharf, ready to be towed to up to 110 locations, collecting critical marine geotechnical data to inform port design and detailed scientific studies.
“The commencement of marine surveys signals a key milestone in the progress of the container expansion project. This is the culmination of over six months of planning, including keeping the community informed through regular newsletters, information sessions and presentations around Western Port,” said Mr Lean.
Each barge and its crew vessels will remain in the water over the next six to nine months (subject to weather conditions), collecting geotechnical samples from key locations in the port area, existing shipping channels and the anchorage. The majority of samples will be taken in the area north of Long Island Point, which is the focus of container expansion planning. Weekly updates of the expected barge locations will be provided on the Authority’s website.
A marine geophysical survey vessel will also begin, using sonar reflection and profiling techniques to map the physical features of the seabed, over a one to three month period.
Survey activity will cease for the Christmas period, from the 21st December 2013, and will resume on the 6th January 2013. No geotechnical surveys will occur in the anchorage for the duration of the summer school holiday period.
Mariners, fishermen and recreational water users of Western Port are advised to keep clear of the barges and survey vessels, with a distance of at least 100 metres recommended. Western Port users are reminded to continue to check for the latest Notice to Mariners and to observe the directions of the Harbour Master at all times.
Approvals to complete the surveys were granted under the Victorian Coastal Management Act 1995. An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been approved and all surveys will be conducted in accordance with the EMP. This includes adherence to EPA Noise Control Guidelines, although it is expected that noise will be kept to a minimum.
Mr Lean said “At every stage of these critical works we are aiming to minimise environmental impacts to the port area and to our local stakeholders. We are confident that these works can be conducted safely and with minimal impact to the environment.”
The Authority is committed to ensuring the community are kept informed of the progress of marine surveys and will provide updates through a range of methods including the website, regular “Port of Hastings Development Update” newsletter and open afternoons at the Authority’s office in High Street, Hastings.
Port of Hastings, December 5, 2013