Reducing Environmental Risks in the Pacific

Demolition Contractor creates Environmental Not for Profit Organization

Major Projects Foundation was formed as a not for profit company. Under the leadership of Paul Adams, Managing Director of Major Projects Group, a demolition company specialising in difficult and hazardous decommissioning, the project sprang into being. After some years working on how the project might become a reality, Paul seized the opportunity to tender for and win former HMNZS Manawanui, a 43m dive tender that unexpectedly became available.

The Foundation is backed by experts in a raft of fields, including corrosion engineering, maritime conservation, diving, project management, remotely operated vehicles, marine engineering and logistics. The Foundation has recently developed a working partnership with the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) through the University of Newcastle.

The marine and economic impact of shipwrecks in the Pacific

In the Pacific there are over 3000 shipwrecks. How much oil is in their bunkers is poorly understood. Around 310 of these are oil tankers. Corrosion will ensure that whatever oil is there is eventually released.

At the moment there is a body of research almost unanimously saying a substantial threat to the Pacific’s maritime heritage and reef ecosystems exists. The extent of this threat and the scope of the risks are however unclear.

The potential damage to the western Pacific’s biodiversity could alone see the extinction of commercial fish species and financial crises for Pacific Island nation economies. The issue remains what to do about it.

Our foundation cares because we believe, based on some extensive research, supplemented by reports from divers, seafarers and island communities, there is a very real threat. In the eyes of the international community, it is out of sight and out of mind.

Global players who should have a stake in the risk mitigation seem difficult to engage. Major Projects Foundation was set up to respond to emerging maritime issues in Pacific Island nations which are slow to evolve but have potentially huge environmental and economic impacts.

After careful negotiation, backed by substantial research and with the logistics in place, our foundation will take direct action to prevent or mitigate oil spills from shipwrecks.

Although the foundation’s work will be principally focused on reducing the threat of oil spills, we will make the ship and support network available for allied environmental projects such as the disposal of ordnance that might complicate the oil spill issue.

How to prevent this environmental risk?

By supporting qualified researchers to determine how much fuel oil and other hydrocarbons are in the wrecks, particularly at areas of high marine conservation value, highly desirable dive sites and areas whose damage will have huge economic consequences. Then our foundation will look at the potential impact of an oil spill and how to successfully mitigate the risk to the environment and the communities who rely on it.

Our foundation understands there are emerging technologies in this field we don’t know about yet.

The foundation’s ship will be made available to projects that share our ethos of environmental risk mitigation. These uses may be to support specific research, enable learning experiences, implement cathodic protection, monitor environmental conditions and otherwise engage with our core business to reduce, manage and where possible eliminate the risk of environmental damage.

Education: Our foundation will educate by offering curriculum components around marine habitat preservation. The foundation will support communities in first response to oil pollution and ‘first aid’ measures to contain the damage. The foundation will look for innovative techniques for mitigating risk by slowing corrosion, supporting microbial digestion of hydrocarbons, managing those metabolic by products, stabilising wrecks and supporting oil extraction by experts if this proves ultimately necessary.

Conservation: Actively conserving heritage and other important dive sites is a great by-product of stopping potential oil damage. Celebrating and supporting national culture and identity as it relates to the ocean and the community’s relationship with it will play a big part.

The foundation will do nothing without the full support and involvement of the relevant communities and their governments.

All activities of Major Projects Foundation are contingent of funding structures being in place to allow any use of the ship to proceed. We are a not-for-profit organisation with clear governance and accountability structures.

Contact us if you want to get involved or donate some money to our Foundation.