Wharf de­sign can avoid Sound harm

Southern Telegraph - - NEWS - Daniel Mercer

A “skele­tal” wharf could be con­structed at Kwinana as a way of min­imis­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age of build­ing a new con­tainer port in the eco­log­i­cally frag­ile Cock­burn Sound, ac­cord­ing to a McGowan Gov­ern­ment ad­vi­sory body.

Ni­cole Lock­wood, the chair­woman of the West­port task force in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fu­ture of WA’s con­tainer trade, said Kwinana was loom­ing as the most likely op­tion for a new freight port once Fre­man­tle reached ca­pac­ity in com­ing decades.

With grow­ing con­cerns about the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fect of build­ing a port in Cock­burn Sound, which has been hit by sea­grass loss, marine life deaths and poor wa­ter qual­ity, Ms Lock­wood said there were ways of “mit­i­gat­ing” fur­ther harm.

New con­struc­tion methods and ma­te­ri­als meant ports could be built in a skele­tal or floating form to avoid dis­turb­ing the sea floor.

Ms Lock­wood also sug­gested the Gov­ern­ment could off­set any en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with a new port by pro­tect­ing other parts of Cock­burn Sound in marine sanctuary zones.

“If you look around the world, there are some fan­tas­tic ex­am­ples of ports being built in very frag­ile en­vi­ron­ments,” she said.

“The tech­nol­ogy in terms of de­liv­er­ing ports now is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent than it has been in the past and one of the op­por­tu­ni­ties we’re look­ing at is what’s called a skele­tal port.

“It’s very light-touch from a seabed per­spec­tive.

“It sits on sort of py­lons rather than being a to­tally soil-filled wharf of jetty.

“So it sits on the sur­face of the wa­ter and is sup­ported ... to really min­imise im­pact.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Lock­wood, in­creas­ing “re­silience” in Cock­burn Sound ahead of con­struc­tion was vi­tal and could be done by restor­ing sea­grass cov­er­age and health in the wa­ter­way.

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