On any given day there is an average of 70,000 tons of timber stored in the Port of Eastland.
The question of what would happen to those records in the event of a tsunami has been the subject of many conversations.
It’s a concern, with the modeling of the 8.9 tsunami produced by the harbor earthquake showing that logs will flow south to the Awapuni, Waikanae Stream and Childers Road regions.
Timber will pile up on the bridges.
In the outgoing tsunami, as many tree trunks were returning to the sea as did the Japan Tsunami in 2011.
There are many variables to consider, and three major players – Eastland Port, Gisborne County Council (GDC) and Eastland Wood Council (EWC) – have spoken out about changes to protect the city in the future from harbor log storage in the event of a tsunami.
Andrew Gadom, head of operations for the Eastland Group, said key parts of the infrastructure will be modernized to improve resilience and help protect the port and surrounding areas.
“I’ve had conversations with people about this and realize that there is a real anxiety in the community.”
Mr. Gaddum said that extensive modeling of the potential impacts of a tsunami from an 8.9 earthquake (available on the Council’s website) indicates that most logs will scatter in the south and in the stream, piling up on bridges.
“In Eastland Port, we regularly review our contingency plans in the event of a tsunami. These plans include evacuating all people off-site for their immediate protection, moving ships out of port and moving heavy equipment to higher ground.”
This equipment can then be used to aid recovery efforts.
“All city-based ports across New Zealand face similar challenges in the event of a major tsunami.”
The port upgrades include rebuilding Wharf 7 as part of the Twin Berth project.
The new pier will be ‘Originally a Level IV Lifeline,’ meaning that it will be designed and built to function after an earthquake once in 2,500 years.
This is the same standard required for other critical infrastructure, with special post-disaster functions such as hospitals, “said Mr. Gaddum.
Along the route, once we have the required approvals, we are also planning to rebuild the external breakwater and undertake repairs to the internal breakwater.
“ The seven-meter-high seawall is a vital line of defense against damaging bulges, large waves, and small and medium-sized tsunamis.
It helps protect log yards at sea level. We have supplier approval to rebuild the eastern end of the Sea Wall. This will start soon, and the project is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.
However, in the event of a huge wave coming from the top of the sea wall and proving to be powerful enough to alter the tree trunks stacked in the yards, the sheer size and strength of the water alone would have enormous impacts on the port and the city.
Area council lead scientist Dr Murray Cave said the potential risk of logging from a severe tsunami was recognized as an issue when the council reviewed tsunami inundation modeling in 2018-2019.
“A review of previous studies in New Zealand and abroad has established that no work has been undertaken on this issue despite a number of New Zealand ports being involved in the export of logs.
“There was some work available for packing shipping containers after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, however, as the buoyancy of shipping containers differs markedly from the records, it was decided that an assessment of the hazard records that were put up during the tsunami should be included in the study.”
Al-Sayed said how the study assumed that the Gladstone, Wimata and Bell Street bridges, as well as the railroad bridge were still intact (although severely damaged).
“The modeling suggested that, under severe tsunami conditions, timber would be packed but indicated that the bridges would be an effective barrier at least in part, and that a large portion of the timber movement would be south as well as in the Awapuni / Waikanae Stream, / Childers Street area.
It has also been found that many tree trunks will be washed into the sea by the reverse tsunami and this is consistent with container observations after the Tohoku earthquake in Japan.
Civil defense and emergency director Ben Green said anything floating, including ships and cars, would pose a danger, as tsunami footage in Japan showed.
“The only mitigation of the disaster and the scale of such an event is that individual plans must take into account potential risks such as moving away from waterways.
“All families should have a clear understanding of where they are on the tsunami maps and have an evacuation plan in place.
“If the earthquake is long or strong, go.”
Eastland Wood Council CEO Philip Hope said he is in contact with the Eastland and Gisborne County Council (GDC) about the dangers of logging in a major / severe tsunami.
“We endorse and support contingency plans and ongoing work by the Eastland Port and the GDC in this area.
“Eastland Wood Council also wants to emphasize the importance of everyone knowing where they are on the tsunami maps (according to the GDC website) and having an evacuation plan ready in the event of a major earthquake / tsunami.”
* Andrew Gadom, head of operations for Eastland Port, said that if anyone has any questions, they are welcome to email them to [email protected]
Dark Areas Equal to Debris: This graphic shows where records would go from Port Eastland in the event of an 8.9 tsunami caused by an earthquake. The darker color represents the greater density of the logs. Gisborne County Council lead scientist Dr Morey Cave said this scenario was modeled on the Gladstone Road Bridge that survived an earthquake, acting as a debris embankment. But there was much unknown – the wave could be higher than the bridge and carrying debris over it, or the bridge could collapse in an earthquake. With so much unknown, these scenarios provide new ground for the council. The Port of Eastland will rebuild Wharf 7 as part of the Twin Berth project as an ‘Originally Lifeline Level 4’, meaning it will be designed and built to operate after an earthquake once every 2,500 years. Image from the tsunami dumping report on the GDC website.
Dark Areas Equal to Debris: This graphic shows where records would go from Port Eastland in the event of an 8.9 tsunami caused by an earthquake. The darker the color, the thicker the tree trunks. Gisborne County Council lead scientist Dr Morey Cave said this scenario was modeled on the Gladstone Road Bridge that survived an earthquake, acting as a debris embankment. But there are many unknowns. Graphic supplied
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