The 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016 and subsequent landslides revealed the fragility of our nation’s infrastructure in an event widely described as unprecedented. The reinstatement of the railways alone was the largest rail construction effort in the South Island since WWII.
But back-up was there.
Early in the emergency, military helicopters were used to lift Prime Pump BBA pumps from frigates based off the Kaikoura coast. The pumps’ relative compactness and light weight (1.6 tonnes) made them easy to transport; an imperative in such challenging conditions.
The pumps provided the initial grunt needed for emergency de-watering, and continued to deliver support as events unfolded; cost-effectively removing water from areas critical to reconstruction, helping reinstate the sea wall and assisting the rebuild of roads, bridges and other infrastructure in the town, and along State Highway 1.
Subsequent slips and adverse conditions amplified the difficulties and more pumps, and resources were committed to assist the beleaguered region.
Glenn Powell, Prime Pump’s Civil and Mining Sales Engineer, said the pressure was on at first, not least because the town’s sewer pipelines were broken by the quake.
While the cubic metres of rock moved from slips and number of truckloads have been well documented the amount of water pumped is incalculable. At one point, eight BBA 6 inch and one 12 inch pump were used for dewatering a temporary bund created to help re-instate the marina; a crucial part of the recovery process.
The pumps’ resilience in challenging and often very salty operating conditions, together with their efficiency and effectiveness, made them a perfect solution.
Often at the forefront in emergencies the Dutch-made BBA pumps, come from a nation that has been refining de-watering techniques for around 1,000 years. Importantly, they also lead the world in sustainability and low running costs continue to be a focus for the company. On average, other comparable pumps use a staggering 18% more power than BBA pumps just to shift the same amount of water.
Six BBA pumps are still on site in Kaikoura and will be working at least until the end of December, making this one of Prime Pumps’ longer deployments, with most pumps running 15-16 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, one pump has been running 24/7 since the event and has only just had its first full check over.
It’s not the first time that the pumps have been called into a critical situation and it almost certainly won’t be the last. BBA pumps were also at the forefront in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake. As with subsequent events, Glenn says, the pumps’ mobility and quietness outshone others.
As, for the pumps in Kaikoura, there is still no immediate end in sight.
NZTA says repairs at Jacob’s Ladder and the Clarence road bridge alone will keep the crews busy well into winter. There are also various stabilising projects continuing and between six to eight bridges that still require serious work. Prime Pump expects pumps to be working there into 2020.
In situations like these, practical, on-the-ground experience is invaluable.
Prime Pump staff have over 100 years of combined experience in the pump industry covering; earthworks, roading, construction, natural disasters, and quarrying.
As a result they have a very clear understanding of the real-situation challenges contractors, councils and emergency crews face. This is backed by proven pump brands that are simply the best in the world.
As Christchurch and Kaikoura show, the future is difficult to predict. This prompted Prime Pump to provide an option that is ideal for emergencies and addresses the unexpected - hire
In recent years, this has become a welcome extension of Prime Pump’s business with their fleet of pumps being used in everything from slurry and dredging, to quarries, flooding, sewers and dewatering.
Glenn Powell says their hire service is flexible. “That means, it suits almost every situation. Hire can be for years, months, or maybe for weeks.”
Prime Pump also keeps an eye on what is occurring around the country and is ready to respond. “Emergencies, and unexpected weather events happen. We try to cover every eventuality and get back to people within a few hours at the latest.”
Joining the frequently-used BBA pumps, also included in the Prime Pump hire inventory are Grindex submersible pumps, from Sweden, and the super heavy-duty, submersible agitator pumps from Dragflow, along with an extensive range of generators, small pumps, and accessories.
“If there’s an emergency, or even if there’s not, we’re here,” Glenn says.