North Channel to be dredged
Dredging work on the North Channel will begin before the end of the month so Bermuda’s shipping ways can accommodate the latest generation of cruise ship next year.
The dredging and widening of the channel that runs from off St George’s towards Dockyard is expected to take a month to complete, but will not affect cruise liners calling in the West End.
Specialised equipment that will complete the operation has already begun to arrive in Bermuda, with more vessels arriving today and tomorrow in Dockyard and Hamilton.
The material collected from the dredging project will be moved to the South Basin in Dockyard where it will be used in the America’s Cup village project.
Nearly 600 corals have already been relocated from the North Channel to adjacent reefs and are being monitored.
Joe Simas, vice-president of marine operations for the Meyer group of companies, told The Royal Gazette: “Jan de Nul Group will be conducting the North Channel dredge.
“Suction dredger Niccolo Machiavelli along with two Splithopper barges Astrolabe and Boussole will be working in North Channel and The Narrows widening the channels.
“This will be a 24-7 operation and weather depending should be completed by end of November.
“The material from the dredge operation will be landed at South Basin for the America’s Cup Village project. Jan de Nul Group are experts in this field of work.”
A statement released by the Cabinet Office last night confirmed that the dredging work was being done to accommodate Royal Caribbean International’s quantum class of ship that are expected to call in Bermuda in 2016.
The beginning of the project comes after the Government held a series of town-hall meetings to gauge the public’s opinions on the dredging options.
The Ministry of Public Works also commissioned an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to explore the positive and negative impacts of each option.
The latest October update on the Bermuda Channel Study website states: “Dredging will commence in late October to avoid main coral and fish spawning season.
“?A turbidity monitoring plan developed by the Department of Environmental Protection is being implemented with stringent “action thresholds” for turbidity excellencies. ??Deployment mobilisation of the buoys has commenced.”
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) last night applauded the work completed by Bermuda Environmental Consulting (BEC) in the run-up to the project.
Stuart Hayward, the group’s chairman, said: “BEST applauds the process engaged by BEC of involving stakeholders. BEST and other environmental non-Governmental organisations were consulted early in the process.
“BEC conducted an EIA, starting with a scoping exercise, in addition to setting standards for the what and how of environmental protection during the project.
“Because of the work done on the EIA it was discovered that far less actual dredging or excavation was needed than was first anticipated.
“Furthermore a team led by BEC successfully moved over 500 corals, which has provided an opportunity to monitor that methodology for future benefit to coral life, not just in Bermuda.”