Book Review: Dredging For Sustainable Infrastructure

‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

Last week, I attended the last sessions of the ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ course, jointly organised by CEDA1 and IADC2. This course is intended to quickly absorb the contents of the book of the same name3 and have a hands on experience of the novel methodology proposed. The book has been written by many different people as members of the participating organisations. As such, it is the condensed knowledge and ideas of the dredging community on a modern approach to infrastructure projects. Although there is a straightforward structure in the book, the publishers initiated courses as an introduction to the book.

Structure of the book (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
Structure of the book (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

As Covid-19 swept across Europe and thwarted the intended live course days, the sessions were postponed and eventually held online. The presenters, Erik van Eekelen, Thomas Vijverberg and Mark Lee did a good job of introducing us to the book and supervise us in the break out working groups. The central storyline of the working groups was the harbour expansion of the fictional port of Tomigo in the fairy land of Quandany. Each of the participants was assigned a role to represent the consultant, the fishing community, the nature conservancy organisations, the power plant etc. A revelation for me from this interaction is how easy you are inclined to be egocentric in the defence of your interests. With just a little more attention to the other interests, there might be much better opportunities for yourself and for the whole of the project.

New harbour basin development at the port of Tomigo (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
New harbour basin development at the port of Tomigo (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

The incentive to produce a book on this novel approach in dredging projects was the UN initiative to launch 17 Sustainable Development Goals4 and the book addresses most of these goals. If we can truly lift the proposed working procedures into an industry standard or even a social mentality, this will be a paradigm shift from where the project was the centre of attention to: ‘Where can nature and society benefit from an economic requirement?’ The next step will be from philosophy to action.

United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals (Credit: United Nations)
United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals (Credit: United Nations)

The focus of the book is very much on the initial stages of a project: include sustainability on the basis of the design of a project, demonstrating options for sustainable solutions suggestion of sustainable techniques. As a dredging equipment manufacturer5, most of the topics will not affect my daily work. Still, in the work group sessions, it was interesting to see the interaction between the various parties that are involved with the initiation of a project. As a dredge builder4, we usually meet the requirements for the equipment applied. Though, the technical solution to achieve this might be not the most commercial solution. However, the book makes it clear and provides examples, that taking all aspects of a project into account, including social and nature opportunities, the benefits of a sustainable approach of a project might still make a viable business case.

Three pillars of sustainability (Credit: CEDA & IADC)
Three pillars of sustainability (Credit: CEDA & IADC)

The verdict on the book: it is a reference book. And as such it is very tiresome to plough through. However, the course is very enlightening as introductory lectures into the contents. Then the meticulously compiled information starts to live. Don’t depend on the courses alone, also leaf through and note all the valuable tables, graphs and diagrams, especially the guiding boxes that can assist you in setting up your dredging project. It definitely belongs on your bookshelf.

‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ in our bookshelf
‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ in our bookshelf

References

  1. CEDA and IADC launches new ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’ Course, CEDA
  2. Online Course ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’, IADC
  3. Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure, CEDA&IADC
  4. The 17 goals, United Nations
  5. Damen Dredging Equipment, Damen

See also

The Good Side And The Bad Side Of A Statue At Port Said

Statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps in a garden at Port Said Shipyard
Statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps in a garden at Port Said Shipyard

As you’ve probably already guessed, I am quite fond of old stuff. Especially when it has some relation to dredging. Last post on Omar’s graduation1 not only brought back my memories on the interesting lectures by professor de Koning2, it also rekindled my inspiration to write about something that I have up my sleeve for a long time already. Although, due to the current global turmoil3, the message that I want to convey has been drastically altered. It turns out to be more of an opinion than an informative perspective on the history of the Suez Canal.

It was in the early years of my career, that I was building dredge ‘10th of Ramadan’ for the Suez Canal Authority4. We designed the dredge and prepared the components at Damen Dredging Equipment5, but the actual construction took place at Port Said Shipyard6, a subsidiary of the client. I’ve spent many hours roaming over the yard to locate components that were sent there and we needed them to inspect or install. On one of those excursions, I encountered the statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Ferdinand De Lesseps was an interesting figure7, who owed his success to being the right person at the right time at the right place. In his earlier career, during a quarantine period in 1832 in Alexandria, he received a book that discussed Napoleons ideas about connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea8. Captivated by this idea, he was able to use his connections and positions to get the concession to dig the canal as we know it in 1859. In honour of this achievement a impressive statue was placed at the beginning of the Canal at the Port Said side after the opening in 1869.

As it happened in those days, the Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez, claimed the canal and all involved land and business for the French government. All revenue from the Canal ended up in France and not in the country that had worked so hard for the Canal. This has been a great disappointment for Egypt. When Nasser declared the Suez Canal a national property in 1956, the statue was removed as a gesture that Egypt was independent and no European country had any business ruling it as a colony. In a careful act of historical awareness, the statue was not destroyed, but placed at the Port Side Shipyard to be taken care of until the future would find an appropriate purpose. There it is kept in honour by a select group of craftsmen, who depend for their subsistence on his legacy.

Statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps at the entrance of the Suez Canal (Credit: Google)
Statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps at the entrance of the Suez Canal (Credit: Google)

In 1956 it was not so much vandalism by the people that the statue was removed from public space.7 It was a statement by a public conscious government with history awareness that prevented further harm from mindless destruction. Now, over half a century later, we see more acts of iconoclasm to historical statues, and then in a so called civilized world… A lot of historical figures were children of their own time. And for sure, those times were not very civilized in hindsight. OK, I am history aware and enjoyed my history lessons. There I had to learn that the raids of the barbarians on Rome, the Crusades to occupied Jerusalem and the iconoclasm in our own Reformation era were to be condemned. So, imagine when a lot of historical figures were removed from the street by emotional destruction, would later generations not condemn us in turn? What I would find even worse, is that future generations would not be aware of the dark side of those old ages as there are no statues to remind them to it. Maybe we can reintroduce a penalty for those ‘heroes’ from their own days: ‘the pillory’9. Just as with all sentences, the penalty can only awarded by the government, or an appointed committee, not the public. If that fails, store them under the custody of people who take good care of them without reverence. And at least let the pedestal remain to remind people of their history. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana)10

Possible implementation of a statue with a pillory sign?
Possible implementation of a statue with a pillory sign?

References

  1. Graduation Omar Karam: Rock Cutting The Egyptian Way, Discover Dredging
  2. Boundary Conditions for the use of Dredging Equipment, Lecture notes i82 A+B, prof. J. de Koning
  3. Violence and controversies during the George Floyd protests, Wikipedia
  4. The Ancient History of the Cutter Suction Dredge ‘10th of Ramadan’, Discover Dredging
  5. DTC – Think Global, Act Local, Damen Shipyards
  6. Port Sid Shipyard, Suez Canal authority
  7. Ferdinand de Lesseps, Wikipedia
  8. Mémoire sur la communication de la mer des Indes à la Méditerranée par la mer Rouge et l’isthme de Soueys (p.352), Google
  9. Pillory, Wikipedia
  10. George Santayana, Wikiquote

See also

The Last Dredging And Port Construction Magazine, The End Of An Era

The last issue of Dredging and Port Construction
The last issue of Dredging and Port Construction

It is not very often that one experiences the end of an era. Hiroshima, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brexit. Those were very important events with a global impact. Now there is another end of a period, with only a limited impact on a small community affected. After half a century, our trusted journal ‘Dredging and Port Construction’ has come to an end1. In the fast moving media world, this will only be a footnote in history. Yet, as a magazine, it was close to our community. It reported on projects and people we knew, but also as a platform for the CEDA to communicate with us for 42 years2.

IHS Markit has decided to cease this publication, the lack of new subscriptions and decreasing advertisements. You know, the general malaise in paper printing. Somehow, the digital revolution didn’t turn out so well for them. Other digital media providers covering the dredging industry seem to have a better business model to survive the transition. Right?

Well, there is a big disadvantage of those free service, hot shot, social media savvy new comers, they just forward press releases that they receive or sweep up from social media. They don’t have dredging literate expert editors writing long genuine articles about topics that would not have access to coverage by themselves. Having your own knowledgeable editors doing original research vetting the facts and reporting from a broad perspective with a solidly founded opinion is expensive. And that makes it very difficult for a classic publisher to survive in these modern times.

We will suffer in this new era without our trusted DPC. We can sign up to the usual free subscription daily newsletters from the new media publishers and read the endlessly repeating press releases. We will miss the in depth reports on big projects or critical comments on regulatory issues. We will have to figure this out from within our own social media bubbles. It will narrow our view and I certainly hope we don’t lose the perspective of other members in our community.

Please be advised, that also the website will be closed at the end of June3, leaving only the digital archive of the magazine accessible4, which goes back to May 2015. Although the last editor, Ines Nastali, told me she is happy to send out articles if requested by the dredging community. There will only be some dusty old paper versions that are stored in a forgotten archive or that one issue we keep for some sweet memory. At least that is what I have done. Over the years, I have written several articles that have been placed in this magazine and I cherish those issues. The first one was already long ago about a CEDA excursion to the IJsseloog in the Ketelmeer project. The last one was a reprint from my post5 about energy transition in the dredging industry discussed during the CEDA Dredging Days6.

CEDA Dredging Days 2019 panel discussion (Credit: CEDA)
CEDA Dredging Days 2019 panel discussion (Credit: CEDA)

It was a good experience to contribute to the magazine that way. And made me proud, that my posts at this website were picked up by the media. I will see what will come along in the future. I am open to any opportunity. At least, I am determined to keep www.discoverdredging.com alive as an independent platform to point out dredging related topics. And this will be a lonely place left to find an opinion about our community, albeit, very personal.

Although we are an industry in an economic sense, it is a community. When I think of companies and projects, I think about the people I know over there. And my memory about Dredging and Port Construction will not only be the magazine, but also the nice cooperation with the editors. At this moment I would like to especially thank Tony Slinn, Lisa Maher and Ines Nastali for a their work.

Ines Nastali, senior custom publishing editor (Credit: Ines Nastali)
Ines Nastali, senior custom publishing editor (Credit: Ines Nastali)

References

  1. End of an era, IHS Markit DPC
  2. IHS DPC Latest, CEDA
  3. About us, IHS Markit DPC
  4. Welcome to your digital magazine portal, IHS Markit
  5. We Choose To Adopt Energy Transition, But How Will We Succeed? Discover Dredging
  6. Dredging industry addresses energy transition challenges, IHS Markit DPC

See also

CEDA