Royal HaskoningDHV and 6 Alpha Associates have signed a contract with the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), to be the research contractor for a project which will develop good practice guidance on the assessment and management of unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk in the marine environment.
As offshore wind and cabling projects begin to proliferate in UK and European waters, a legacy of unexploded WWII sea mines, munitions dumps and former military testing sites poses a significant threat, both to the successful and timely delivery of these developments and to the safety of the workers servicing them.
In light of costly UXO-related delays on a number of high-profile offshore wind projects across Europe, there is a clear and growing need for project developers not only to come to terms with the nature of this threat but also to deal with it in a timely and efficient manner. In the absence of centralised formal guidance, the industry remains at risk of serious incident.
The CIRIA project, Assessment and Management of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Risk in the Marine Environment, profiting from 6 Alpha’s 10 years of experience managing high risk marine construction projects, will lay down much-needed best practice guidelines for organisations working on all stages of offshore projects – from planning to operations and ultimately decommissioning.
The project, which is not exclusively focused on the offshore wind sector and will be applicable to all marine energy and construction projects, will outline each type of UXO and its corresponding threat, provide a framework for the assessment and management of the risks posed by potential or actual detonation, identify the responsibilities and duties of different organisations under existing legislative and regulatory regimes and pinpoint where and when professional advice from an UXO specialist should be sought.
Currently in draft, the project report will outline a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy, closely modelled on the current operations of 6 Alpha Associates and co-author Royal HaskoningDHV and founded on effective hazard identification and efficient assessment, management and communication of risk.
The report will also acknowledge that a balance must be struck between the costs of risk mitigation and its benefits, while asserting that the assessment and management of risk will be required not just once, but throughout all stages of a project’s lifecycle.
“To date, there has been insufficient clarity and awareness concerning a number of key issues related to the safe management of UXO risk on marine construction projects,” said Simon Cooke, Managing Director, 6 Alpha Associates.
“We often find that project developers and operators are under-informed about the true scale and nature of the UXO threat in European waters,” he added. “The offshore wind and wider marine construction sectors are in clear need of guidance about where legal responsibility lies for managing this long-term risk and how to do so in a cost effective and safe manner.”
“In cooperation with CIRIA and Royal HaskoningDHV, we’re hoping to use our expertise to bring some clarity to the market with guidelines that can act as a starting point for the establishment of universal best practice.”
“As marine construction and energy projects grow in scale and number, it’s vital that we pool knowledge and experience, especially where the risk of catastrophic incident is involved,” said Nick Cooper, Technical Director, Royal HaskoningDHV.
Joanne Kwan, CIRIA’s Project Manager added: “This latest CIRIA report is targeted at raising industry awareness about a significant and long-term issue with the end goal of enhancing safety standards across the board. The 6 Alpha Associates and Royal HaskoningDHV team was appointed following a competitive selection process.”
The project is supported by a wide range of organisations, with funding provided by 1st Line Defence Ltd, BACTEC, Dong Energy, EDF Energy, Eon, Heinrich Hirdes EOD Services GmbH, FIND, Fugro Engineering Services, Ramora UK, Ordtek Ltd, Marine Management Organisation, MODUS Seabed Intervention Limited, RES, SSE, Woodgroup Kenny and Zetica.
6 Alpha Associates has provided specialist risk consultancy services for 75% of the UK’s Round 3 offshore wind projects, four of five French offshore renewable energy projects and a number of further developments in Dutch and German waters.
In 2009, the firm, which also provides UXO consultancy services for the onshore construction industry, co-authored the CIRIA report C681 Unexploded Ordnance: A guide for the construction industry.
Press release, March 24, 2014; Image: MAST