My descent into Darwin was equal parts terror and exhilaration.
The few “bumps”, as they are now quaintly termed by cool as Buble Captains, I am certain conjured by the sprite breath of a certain “when is the hair coming” leader of the “Free” world. Thankfully, the “terror” was more - forced to listen to Kenny Gee than spine-tingling witnessing of Sir Anthony Hopkins in that lamb film.
This all serves of course to characterise the Darwin Ecoforum committee meeting. Like that watch ad a few moons ago; in the beginning we were miles apart in thought though separated by only a table. Sparked by an offering from the revered former CEO of ALGA, Elisabethe Dank (“Trinity”), now keeping the Mercuri brothers out of trouble at Matrix Drilling, our minds collectively swarmed to a common hive, a hive alive with the sweet promise of an enriching and informing, dare I say, ground-breaking, conference this September. The Ecoforum committee, the ALGA board and the fine peeps of ALGA (FPOA) made themselves known to Darwin on the 10th and 11th February.
For the committee, the purpose was to experience first-hand, the environmental issues, challenges and opportunities of the great northern city and to reach consensus on the overarching and underlying themes for Ecoforum 2020. The Dank Spark, exploded into a new way of thinking about conference content and I am giddy at the prospect of informing on this in weeks to come.
The inimitable Ian Brookman of Ventia and forthcoming GQ cover, won the committee popular vote for the title of the conference and it will hint at the direction many would like Ecoforum and ALGA to take. Eyes peeled for the revealing of that in coming issues of the splendidly revamped ALGA newsletter. The conference will focus on solving problems, a theme championed and lucidly articulated by committee and board member, Dr. Peter Nadebaum of GHD. The big issues of our time including global contamination and pollution and the challenges to our industry from the changing climate will envelope proceedings.
Suffice to say I left the Ecoforum committee meeting buoyed by the creative winds dispelling mediocrity and banishing “same old same old”.
Huge thanks as always to Shardai Eaton, the one who truly brings Ecoforum into being, for organising, corralling, minuting, oodles of positivity and finding a super venue, resort-like, one might say.
Paul Turyn of SLR was the consummate host for this trip leading the committee through six contaminated sites, some of which may be site tours. Asbestos is a major issue in Darwin with Cyclone Tracey causing a great deal of mess and less than savoury earth cleansers (to perhaps misquote Kate Hughes), finding novel resting places and saving the bother of searching for an actual disposal facility. Bruce Croucher of New Zealand EPA knows asbestos and his insight to that specific issue and his wide-ranging ideas inject a unique perspective for forming of the conference. One of the visited sites may be the subject for the Legacy Project, an exciting special addition to the conference inspired and spearheaded by sometimes Kafelonian Jon Miller of The Remediation Group.
The trip culminated in a forum event hosted by the omnipresent Paul Turyn with an excellent update on PFAS analytical methods by Dr. Annette Nolan of Ramboll and an engaging summary of the key points of stakeholder management by Dr. Sarah Richards of Coffey (see the ALGA library for the presentations). The latter peppered with real life examples spanning industry worst to best practice. FPOA Branch and Operations Manager, Karoline Willis provided connection to the Darwin branch committee and a shading umbrella when the searing sun threatened to discolour a fragile committee member. A member whose man credentials were shattered when the wind sent it all a bit Mary Poppins.
The weather in Darwin is majestic, proper weather, and if the planning hints at the event to come we are in for a scorcher.
The call for abstracts is imminent, in fact by publication they may be open for submission.. I encourage you to contribute an abstract or two (or more) to get on board with this, ALGA's most awesomessest event yet!
P.S. I feel compelled to inform of the absence of Duck Pancakes during the meeting.
Director – Remediation (Australia)| Principal Engineer
EHS Support Pty Ltd