27 February 2015

Swedish Group Switches from Shipping Fenders and Port Protection to Preserve History  

Giant Rubber Seals to Save Venice from the Waves

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ITALY – The name Trelleborg is synonymous around the globe with the fender systems normally part of or suspended from the quays of major shipping ports in every continent. The details of the latest project for the Swedish headquartered group takes it into, dare one say, more romantic territory, with a bid to safeguard the historic lagoon in Venice, the city of light and water, from the ravages of the ever-higher tides that are threatening this Italian cultural showpiece.

Trelleborg has been awarded the contract for the design and installation of multiple fender systems and bespoke sealing systems for the Mose project (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), a name reminiscent of Moses and the Red Sea, and particularly apt for the project aimed at saving Venice from the waves. The Mose is the last and most important element in the plan of interventions to safeguard the lagoon area and its construction, now about 85% complete, was preceded by a work programme unequalled anywhere in the world for the size of the area involved, nature of the problems tackled as well as the scale and characteristics of the measures implemented.

Mose is a series of mobile barriers installed at the three inlets (the gaps through which the tide enters the lagoon). The barriers consist of steel gates installed end-to-end and used only in the event of danger. The gates are normally completely invisible, resting in special housings in the bed of the lagoon inlets. When a high water is forecast, they are temporarily raised to isolate the lagoon from the Adriatic. When the tide goes down, the gates are returned to their housing in the seabed. The total cost of the project is estimated at €5.5 billion.

The Mose, constructed by the Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti – Provveditorato Interregionale per le Opere Pubbliche del Triveneto, through the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, is part of a major systemic programme of measures combining physical defense with restoration of the morphological equilibrium of the entire lagoon ecosystem. Trelleborg worked closely with the consultant engineer, Technital, during the design phase as well as with one of the project’s main contractors, Clodia Spa. Diego Zandolin from Clodia takes up the story:

“For such a large-scale infrastructure project, it was vital that we source a reliable solution that would stand the test of time. Trelleborg promised a hassle-free installation process and proven functionality; its fender systems and bespoke sealing systems provide an ideal solution. We needed multiple made-to-order sealing system solutions, and Trelleborg was able to meet our requirements with a combination of highly resilient natural rubber Seismic Gina gaskets, a moulded and handmade seal manufactured to the highest tolerances, as well as Omega seals.

“Trelleborg’s marine operation supplied its state-of-the-art Super Cone and Arch fenders after overcoming the challenge of supplying a large quantity of fenders in a particularly short turnaround time. Trelleborg’s infrastructure operation provided the sealing system solutions while meeting some extremely demanding guidelines. Although we knew the Trelleborg system was already proven globally, Trelleborg was able to tailor it to deliver a custom solution that would precisely meet the project’s needs. The ease of installation for the system was also a major factor in choosing Trelleborg.”

The closed Gina gaskets will be mounted to the barriers and will act as a dynamic seal, ensuring watertight protection. Trelleborg’s Omega seal will act as a secondary seal between the sectional elements of the mobile barriers.

The Mose scheme, initiated in 2003 by Silvio Berlusconi and now scheduled for completion in 2016, three years later than originally envisaged, has been dogged by accusations of corruption culminating last year in raids on 140 Italian offices and the arrest of the Mayor of Venice and dozens of others.

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