Maintenance dredging is an important part of port operations to provide safe navigation by ensuring sufficient draught clearance for commercial vessels visiting the Port of Melbourne.
Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) undertakes this work in accordance with an approved Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which includes Project Delivery Standards (PDS) including environmental controls and limits to ensure that the dredging program objectives and targets are achieved.
On Thursday 10 April, PoMC was informed by the dredging contractor, Boskalis Australia, that an activity associated with the current maintenance dredging program did not fully comply with the EMP requirement.
At around midday yesterday, during the transport of dredged material from the Station Pier swing basin to the Port of Melbourne Dredged Material Ground (PoMDMG), approximately 200 m3 of dredged material was inadvertently released in close proximity to where the material was dredged. There were no injuries.
Although the details of the incident are being investigated, PoMC understands that the barge’s hopper doors were mistakenly activated resulting in the release of the dredged material.
Following the loss of material, the hopper doors were closed and the Reliance continued the transit to the PoMDMG for the disposal of the remaining material in the hopper.
On the afternoon of the incident, PoMC notified the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
A hydrographic survey was also undertaken to determine the location of the material and assess any risk to navigation which was found not to be impacted.
The dredged material covers a limited footprint of around 80 x 10 metres.
Boskalis Australia has commenced a formal investigation into the incident and will submit a report to PoMC as soon as it is completed.
Following an initial assessment, a series of actions are now being implemented, including:
-a review of operational procedures and systems related to towage and disposal of dredged sediment;
-alterations to the hopper barge electrical and hydraulic systems as required;
– retraining of the crew;
-removal of the dredged material and its placement within the PoMDMG.
Findings from the formal investigation will be reported to DEPI and the EPA.
Press Release, April 11, 2014