S.Georgia : GRYTVIKEN WASTE REMOVAL: AN EXERCISE IN HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 30.04.2004 (Current Article)
You might think that removing the dangerous bits of Grytvikenís whaling station would mean the total clearance of all that was brought to the site in the early part of the last century but you would be wrong.
Photos (C) J. Brock (SARTMA - SG) and Vladimir Seliverstov - The Albatrosss and Dias before and after.
GRYTVIKEN WASTE REMOVAL: AN EXERCISE IN HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
By J. Brock (SARTMA)
Thee Albatross and Dias prior to restoration andd clean-up.
You might think that removing the dangerous bits of Grytvikenís whaling station would mean the total clearance of all that was brought to the site in the early part of the last century but you would be wrong. Yes, some clearance of buildings has taken place but what is unique about this project, carried out by AWG (Falklands) Ltd. is that some of the historical aspects of the whaling station will be preserved and remain as a monument to the industry and a reminder of exactly what processes were used to extract marketable resources from each carcass.
Thee Albatross and Dias after the job was done.
It was my good fortune to have finished the fisheries interview with Patrick Lurcock in time to traverse the half-mile track between King Edward Point and Grytviken to see the Project Manager, Ant Risdon (AR) for a guided tour of the site and a chat about the progress that has been made. With hard-hat and bright yellow tabard firmly affixed, I began the tour.
The first restorative project became apparent as Patrick Lurcock and I approached the fenced-off area and saw two whale-catchers, the ALBATROSS and DIAS that had been up-righted. Ant Ridson told me more.
Site Manager, Ant Ridson took SARTMA on an extensive tour of the Whaling Station.
AR: The ALBATROSS and DIAS were laid on their sides on the seabed. One of them was laid at 45 degrees, so it was quite an angle. They were semi-submerged and still contained oil that had been washed from them over time, so they were polluting the sea. Wildlife was swimming amongst the ships and was getting fouled in oil. The main salvage work on those vessels was to remove the oil. To remove the oil, we had to make the vessels upright so we had to float them. They also contained asbestos so when the oil was off, we removed the asbestos. To put the ships in a fairly presentable and safe position on the beach, we excavated a basin on the beach and then pulled the ships on to the beach. We filled in around them and anchored them and made them secure. So, the end result is there are two ships there, which are positioned very nicely. But the reason for doing that was to remove the oil and the asbestos. Because of that, we were able to leave them in a very nice position.
Well protected workers cleaning up bits and pieces that will stay.
SARTMA: While touring the site, I noticed that the buildings around some of the machinery had been removed, leaving the machinery only. Which other buildings have the Government of South Georgia identified for removal?
AR: The Government of South Georgia has provided a list of buildings that are to stay. Everything that I do here regarding demolition I put to the client. So, I do nothing here without the clientís permission. Safety is my first concern. If I am going to put a team of men into a building, I have to make sure it is safe. In some instances I have had to say to the client that the building is not safe and I have to take it down. Thatís one way to do it. Another way is that we have to remove buildings that deny our access to asbestos. Then I go to the client and explain why the structure has to be removed and I get the clientís approval or disapproval.
From a distance one can see the monumental task that awaited the AWG team.
Photo (c) Lyle Craigie-Halkett
The buildings that will stay this year are the structures, which are at the heart of the whaling station, the main stores, there is a meat freezer and some new barracks that are staying and some smaller buildings. Basically, the heart of the station at this time is staying. That is not the final solution for that building because it will become unsafe over a few years. A further decision about the complex will be made by the client, the Government of South Georgia, about what will be done to that building. But for now the building will stay. The problem is the very strong wind that we have at South Georgia tends to lift metal sheets from the buildings. Itís lethal to have metal sheeting blowing around in high winds. The ultimate solution is to make the place completely safe and that means minimising the amount of metal sheeting that is flying around.
SARTMA: AWG have been here since September. How near completion are you at this stage? (09 March)
AR: AWG came around the 1st of September and we had to bring in our own camp. A team of eight people came in initially for six weeks to set up the camp and snow clear. The main team of operatives came in during October, once they had somewhere to live and the whole life support system was set up for them. That team has been working away constantly since 27 October. They will be working until the 14th of April this year. We have a further five weeks of work left here.
SARTMA: In that five weeks,í will you be finding and removing more asbestos?
AR: Absolutely. We will be removing Asbestos until the end.
SARTMA: I take it you have identified places where you still have work to do?
SARTMA: Will the work carry on until next season or do you think you will have it completed this season?
AR: By the end of this season, we will have the Asbestos removed. We have removed the oil from the land-based tanks and from three ships; we will have made buildings that were immediately unsafe, safe again, primarily by demolition. If a building has fallen down, we demolish it to make it safe. There is also the possibility of some PCBs, which are carcinogenic and the transformers that were used here have. We will be removing the PCBs as well.
SARTMA: The logistics of working in a remote place like South Georgia must be daunting. How has AWG coped with it?
AR: The logistics are very complex. A huge amount of planning went into the job a long time before we got here. Everything we need here has to be brought in a ship and those things have to be procured either in the UK or in the Falkland Islands. Thought has been given to the whole process in relation to our supplies up to six months before they get here. Sometimes itís longer. Generally we get a ship in once a month and that ship can bring luxury items like fresh fruit and vegetables, essential machine spares Ė basically everything we need to live here for eight months. We have been successful with logistics this year in that we havenít had any shortfalls.
A view of work in progress near the old bunk house, which will be restored.
SARTMA: I came to South Georgia on the Endeavour with Miles Lee. And, I saw Dave Peck at King Edward Point. Another Falklands hand, Lyle Craigie-Halkett, who was responsible for the removal of the waste fuel in the mid Ď90s, has also been helping. What was Lyle doing here this time?
AR: Lyle was employed as the AWG Salvage Consultant. AWG is a construction company that does demolition. We havenít done marine salvage before. We employed a specialist and Lyle became the AWG Salvage Consultant. He was working very closely with the salvors, Ultratug of Chile and myself.
SARTMA: Besides Miles Lee and Dave Peck, whom else from the Falklands is working on the project?
AR: We have Mr. Darren Livermore who is an AWG operative and a translator with my Chilean operatives. Dave Peck is the Clerk of Works and works for the Government of South Georgia. He is the Governmentís eyes and ears on site.
As this was being written there were five weeks left on the waste clearance and restorative project on South Georgia at Grytviken. A follow-up article will be written from Stanley when this reporting expedition is completed.
(100X Transcription Service)