By Marsha Cohen
with input from David Padman
From the opening ceremony in the large auditorium with festive leis of orchids placed around the necks of all the dignitaries to the closing ceremony in a fully packed hall with enthusiastic participants WODCON XIX held in Beijing China from September 8 through 14 2010 was a fascinating mixture of pomp and circumstance and high-level technical expertise.
Chen Yun Chairman of the Chinese Dredging Association (CHIDA) had the honor of the welcoming words remarking on “the rapid development of the dredging industry in China” since the first WODCON had been held in 1967 and acknowledging China’s endorsement of the congress’s theme “Dredging makes the world a better place.” His speech was followed by welcoming remarks from EADA’s Director Capt. David Padman Zu Leiming Deputy Director at the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources Anders Jensen President of CEDA Zhang Guangqing of the China Association of National Shipbuilding Industry Larry Patella Executive Director of WEDA Zhou Jichange Chairman of CCCC Ltd China’s largest dredging and construction company and Weng Mengyong Vice Minster of of China’s Ministry of Transport.
Once in three years one of the three sister associations (CEDA WEDA and EADA) comprising the World Dredging Association (WODA) organizes an international conference in its region of the world. In 2010 that role fell to the Eastern Dredging Association. The efforts of EADA with support from CHIDA and China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) were rewarded attracting some 500 attendees from around the world.
The technical proceedings were presented in three concurrent sessions which saw a total of 142 papers presented in three days. The technical areas covered by speakers from China Japan Singapore Belgium Holland England Germany and USA included innovative dredging technologies; development of modern dredges that are highly efficient and environmentally friendly with low carbon emissions; handling and treatment of contaminated materials; commercial use of dredged material; impact of dredging on the marine environment and mitigation measures; and environmental protection and rehabilitation.
Between sessions coffee breaks in the hallways outside the presentation rooms provided an opportunity to catch up with old colleagues meet new colleagues and find out just what you might have missed in the room next door.
Lunch breaks: real Chinese food is a whole lot better and more varied than the standard fare in what we call “Chinese” restaurants–gave delegates a chance to exchange thoughts and business cards while sitting down and chowing down.
Almost half the paper presentations were from Chinese delegates with the other half being split between European and U.S. delegates. This led to the decision to present one Grand prize and three separate second prizes one for each world region:
Grand Prize from CHIDA was Dredging Simulator of a Cutter Suction Dredge by Liu Ruixiang Ni Fushen Zhou Quansheng China.
Second Prize from the CEDA region was awarded to Lynyrd de Wit Delft University of Technology the Netherlands for his paper entitled Near Field 3D CFD Modeling of Overflow Plumes.
Second Prize from the WEDA region went to Timothy Welp Michael Tubman Brian Schumacher Norbert Greiser Trap Puckette and Derek Wilson USA for Development of a High Resolution Non Nuclear Density Profiler for Dredging Residuals and Fluid Mud;
Second Prize from the EADA region was for Geotextile Tube Installation Barge by Yuichi Kamada;
The IADC Award for the Best Paper for a Young Author under the age of 35 was given to Yoshiyuki Hasyama of Japan for Establishing A Stone-Dumping System for Construction Man-Made Undersea Ridges.
But paper presentations were the tip of the iceberg when it came to information and expertise exchange. That was clear from the presence of a number of professors from institutions around the world including Sape Miedema and Cees van Rhee of TU Delft Robert Randall of Texas A&M Ni Fusheng of Hohai University and Cai Dafu of the Changjiang Waterway Institute to name a few.
In his closing remarks EADA Chairman Capt. David Padman said “WODCON has always been a meeting point where we either make new friends or renew old acquaintances where business contacts are established where new ideas or techniques are exchanged for the betterment of both the industry or for the environment.
“During this conference young authors were recognized for their new innovations or ideas and we had a variety of quality technical papers ranging from academic to topics touching on R and D and the sustainability of the environment all orbiting around our conference theme of Dredging Makes The World A Better Place.”
He thanked and congratulated Chen Yun and Yang Zunwie of CHIDA along with their team for a job well done and called for a round of applause for them.
At the end of the closing ceremony Freddy Aerts the Chair of CEDA’s Belgian sector announced that WODCON XX would be hosted in Europe specifically in Brussels from June 3-7 2013 with the theme “The Art of Dredging”. And then with a handshake and a smile Captain David Padman handed over the reins of the WODA to Anders Jensen president of CEDA.
Besides the lectures and discussions during lunches and dinners the atmosphere of the conference reflected the hustle and bustle of Beijing with its 18 million residents and hundreds of taxis. Fifteen years ago Beijing was a city of bicycles we’ve been told. Now it’s a city of six ring roads and plenty of modern traffic jams. Across the street from the Conference Center are the grounds of the Olympic Games with the now world-famous and much televised Bird’s Nest (the National Stadium) and the Water Cube (the National Aquatics Center). Planning is everything in China and that was true of the conference and of the conference tours as well including a midweek visit to its architecturally and acoustically impressive concert hall to hear a performance of Mahler.
China is a mixture of the somehow familiarly old and the startlingly new. Which was perhaps the real message of this visit to China. Those who came a day early had the chance to see the old traveling an hour away to see the Great Wall at Badaling the Changling Tombs and the Sacred Way with its 36 stone carved animals and humans. During the conference tour itself three busloads of participants were transported to the new – Tianjin Port the harbor of landlocked Beijing. In fact Tianjin has always been a harbor as could be seen in the museum at the site but in 1952 the Chinese government reopened it. And since the year 2000 it has been revitalized and construction plans have yet not stopped. Tianjin is an all-in-one port with international cargo vessels a few cruise ships new residential areas and recreational beach areas.
The post conference tours were a mixture of ‘build and they will come’–at Cao Fei-dian Reclamation area juxtaposed with a visit to the Huaxia Winery and the following day to a boat tour of the Port of Qinhuangdao one of the largest coal harbors in China and a visit to the Old Dragon’s Head the place where the Great Wall encounters the Pacific Ocean.
One can only say that dredgers in China have learned a great deal since the Hong Kong Airport was built on reclaimed land in the 1990s – before unification. No one who attended this Beijing conference with its elegant and informative hosts can doubt that they were perhaps getting a firsthand glimpse of the future.