An aid project delivered in Tuvalu by dredging and civil construction company Hall Pacific in conjunction with New Zealand’s Calibre Consulting has taken out a prestigious Gold Award as part of the 2016 Innovate Awards of Excellence held in New Zealand in September.
The awards recognise excellence in engineering and consulting and saw the project – undertaken on the Funafuti atoll in the Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu – defeat three other finalists for the coveted top spot.
Hall Pacific Managing Director Cameron Hall said the project had involved more than 250,000m3 of sand being dredged from a local lagoon and used to fill man-made pits in the porous coral atoll.
“The pits were remnants from the second world war, where the United States Marine Corps dug up areas of the Funafuti atoll for use in building an airstrip. The resulting excavations — known as borrow pits — were uninhabitable, and collected rubbish as well as human and pig waste,” Mr Hall said.
“Aside from posing sanitation issues, this also polluted the lagoon, causing excessive disruption to the local ecosystem.”
Mr Hall said filling in the borrow pits had minimised pollution and improved hygiene levels on the atoll, while also creating more open space to be used by the community.
“Given Tuvalu is very densely populated, land space is very valuable to the Tuvaluan people, so the local community was thrilled to see useable land space in the area increased by more than six per cent as part of the works.
“Our team spent more than six months working on the $7 million aid project, and we deployed a cutter suction dredge, 180-foot accommodation barge and support equipment such as excavators, dozers and trucks from Australia to international waters as part of the project.”
Mr Hall said in addition to the Borrow Pit Remediation Project, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) had also commissioned the repair of a breach in the storm ridge at the northern part of the atoll.
“As one of the world’s lowest-lying nations, Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, severe storm systems and coastal erosion caused by climate change,” Mr Hall said.
“Our team constructed a sandbag wall that effectively repaired the breach and removed the threat of the atoll splitting in two. These works were completed as part of the overall contract and were recognised in the award win.”
Hall Pacific is an Australian-owned and operated company specialising in climate change adaptation and resilience including land reclamation, coastal protection, flood mitigation dredging and infrastructure delivery.
The company has previously completed the design and construction of a seawall on Tuvalu’s Nukufetau atoll, further protecting Tuvaluan locals from the impacts of climate change.