VODI project director Hedwig Vanlishout presents Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone president Judy Whicker with a $10,000 donation at an event to mark one million hours of injury-free dredging in Gladstone Harbour.
VODI project director Hedwig Vanlishout presents Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone president Judy Whicker with a $10,000 donation at an event to mark one million hours of injury-free dredging in Gladstone Harbour. Contributed

Dredging company marks one million hours without injury

THE dredging company responsible for the Western Basin project has marked a million hours operating in Gladstone Harbour without a worker injury.

The hours represent nearly nine months since the last injury on the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.

Van Oord Dredging International marked the major milestone at an event on Saturday night, but project director Hedwig Vanlishout said the night wasn't a celebration.

"This was about recognising the achievement, and making a plea to workers to keep up the good work going so we can avoid further injuries," Mr Vanlishout said.

The project's last injury was in July last year and Mr Vanlishout said it hadn't been serious.

"There were a few injuries in the early days of the project," he said.

"When we came to Australia we started with a completely new team and it does take time for everybody to learn procedures."

The dredging project has been going since May 2011, and is due to finish this year.

But Mr Vanlishout said there was no slowing down in operations.

"We are going flat out," he said. "At the current pace we will finish the project in August, ahead of schedule."

He said he hoped the project would stay injury-free until then.

There are still 550 workers on the project - the workforce has been reduced with some vessels already demobilised.

The dredging project for Gladstone Ports Corporation is increasing port access by creating new shipping channels with depths up to 13 metres.

Vessel movements in the port have already reached 20,000 per month.

The improved access is required for each of the LNG companies that are based on Curtis Island to load and export LNG.

The project will remove an estimated 26 million cubic metres of material, and nearly 16 million cubic metres have been shifted.

An area of 274 hectares north of Fisherman's Landing will be reclaimed in the project, and more than 11.4 million cubic metres of dredge waste has already been deposited inside the reclamation zone.

The State Government is considering options to privatise key Queensland ports, including the Port of Gladstone.

Mr Vanlishout said he didn't want to speculate about that.

"We have a very good relationship with the port, and we can finish off this project long before that might eventuate," he said.

On Saturday, VODI marked the achievement by donating $10,000 to Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone, and the GPC chipped in another $5000.

"On our project we have many safety initiatives, every month we give an award to a worker but we always give money to the charities," he said. "In Gladstone we live in a community and we have to give back to that community."



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