Boskalis experts from Port of Melbourne Corporation’s dredging alliance partner claim they have never breached any environmental thresholds. Hang on.......Remember the rockfall……and what about recent warnings about the safety record of Boskalis? 

Photo: Boskalis dredge Nautilus - in which three people died, sinking in Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo 2006

Royal Boskalis Westminster, the parent company of the Port of Melbourne Corporation’s dredging alliance contractor, will receive insurance payments amounting to a total of more than €165 million following the collision of one of their largest dredges, W.D. Fairway in the Chinese Port of Tianjin on March 7 this year.

Infrastructure website Infrasite reports that Fairway is to be written off, and Boskalis has decided to build a new Mega trailing suction hopper dredger with a capacity of 40,000 m³ as well as two large trailing suction hopper dredgers, each with a capacity of 12,000 m³.

One of the new smaller dredges is presumably intended to replace their W.D. Nautilus pictured above, seen listing 90 degrees and semi-submerged, sinking in the Port of Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo in late 2006. Three people lost their lives.

The W.D. Fairway “write –off” means Boskalis will receive insurance payments amounting to a total of more than € 165 million. On balance, the financial settlement will lead to a positive result of approximately € 85 million before taxation. Insurance information on the W.D. Nautilus disaster is not known.

Isn’t it interesting that Boskalis has still managed a healthy profit from the Fairway disaster. Little wonder they are so keen to get going in Port Phillip Bay, where their cosy risk sharing and profit sharing arrangements with the Port of Melbourne Corporation should stand them in good stead regardless of any disasters that might occur.


The spate of accidents Boskalis has been involved in is a bad omen for what might occur if they were ever let loose in Port Phillip Bay (a third Boskalis dredge sunk in the UAE in 2003). And the most recent disaster in China might explain why PoMC has now revised the proposed dredging schedule, citing a delay in the "jumbo-isation" of the Queen of the Netherlands as the reason why they now would like to be dredging in the south of the Bay at the Heads during spring and summer. 

Imagine then, how amazed attendees at the Inquiry were to hear Gerard van Raalte (PoMC/Boskalis Dredging Alliance) claim never to have breached any Environmental Management Plan (EMP) standards.


On Monday afternoon, 18th June, Inquiry member Mike Lisle-Williams asked Mr. van Raalte if Boskalis anticipated any difficulties in satisfying the EMP.


van Raalte replied: "No- but we will be challenged". The dialogue continued:


Lisle-Williams: "Have you been in breach elsewhere?"

Mr. van Raalte: "No, we have not breached any thresholds". 

Lisle-Williams: "Has there been any legal action for failing to deliver (standards)?"

Mr. van Raalte: "Not to my knowledge"

No further questions on that issue. Oh dear.  

Well: What about the well documented and well reported major rockfall non-conformance incident in August 2005 at the Heads? ...and there was a non-conformance for underwater noise during the last week of August 2005 wasn't there? Well, that's what the PoMC's meeting notes show in the documents Blue Wedges has been provided with.


And.......we wonder whether crashing a dredge, and sinking another one might have triggered one or two thresholds?


Perhaps PoMC and their dredge alliance partner misunderstood the question? Perhaps they think it is ok to ignore the well documented breaches of the EMP which have occurred in our Bay, and breaches of standards that might have occured to cause those three major incidents elsewhere in the world? 


Boskalis’ compliance record is sounding alarm bells around the Bay – we don’t want more rockfalls at the Heads and we don't want a dredge upended in our beautiful Bay. We certainly don't want people to lose their lives.


How come those alarm bells aren’t being heard loud and clear in Spring Street, and a couple of blocks north at the Channel Deepening Inquiry in No. 8 Nicholson St? 




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