Dredging to keep port open to cruise ships

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser

Tens of thousands of cubic metres of material would need to removed from the ocean floor next year as part of a multimillion-dollar operation to give passenger liners all-tide access to the Port of Broome.

The Kimberley Ports Authority said current estimates indicated about 70,000cum would need to be dredged from the channel, along with the possibility of a further 15,000cum adjacent to and north of the wharf.

Carnival Australia pulled its P&O ships from WA for the upcoming season because of problems at some regional ports.

A $7 million commitment by the McGowan Government to fix issues at the Port of Broome means the operator will now return its liners to WA and make Fremantle the home port of the Sun Princess from late next year.

The dredging would be carried out next year in readiness for the 2019 cruise season.

Kimberley Ports Authority chief executive Kevin Schellack said Carnival Australia had previously stated it would like to access the Port of Broome wharf for longer periods and outside of current tidal limits.

“Channel work investigations are in the early stages and consultants BMT JFA have provided a scope of works and listed the feasibility studies required before the extent of works can be fully identified,” he said.

Mr Schellack said environmental studies had begun, with the lodging of a sampling analysis plan with the Federal Department of Environment and Energy for review and approval.

“Sediment samples are to be completed in late October and will then undergo laboratory testing to ensure there are no contaminants in the dredge material,” he said.

“A small jack-up barge will be utilised in November to complete the geophysical survey by drilling boreholes to determine the properties of the dredge material.

“To complete the detailed channel design, data collectors will be deployed in the channel to determine real-time tidal and wave data.”

Final feasibility reports may need to be provided to both Federal and State government agencies for approval.

A subsequent detailed channel design would enable the project to proceed.

Mr Schellack said it was most likely that a cutter suction dredge would be able to complete the works.

If sea dumping was deemed appropriate, the KPA would need a permit to place spoil in the deeper parts of the existing channel near the dredging site to “minimise disturbance”.

“As the project proceeds and more accurate information is known, KPA will undertake broad stakeholder consultation,” Mr Schellack said.

Acting Shire of Broome president Harold Tracey said cruise ships were a significant contributor to the local economy that provided benefits across the community.

He said the town had a bright future with cruise ships and the improvements to port access would combine with council projects to improve the experience for passengers, such as the pending $12 million revitalisation of Chinatown, including a new tourist rest facility, coach parking to welcome visitors, and facilities for markets and other attractions.

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