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Cranes, tanks and biosecurity

17 June 2016
One of the less attractive tasks for rangers is the biosecurity watch we carry out to prevent rats gettig established on the island.  As everything brought onto the island has to be taken off, it requires vigilance to make sure rats don't scurry off ships onto the land and is why visitors all land by rubber dinghies.  Recent visitors have therefore been disconcerted to see a large crane and landing craft unloading diesel tanks in Village Bay alongside the day boats visiting the island.
However as the existing diesel tanks are over 40 years old it is important that these are replaced before there is major breach spilling fuel into the bay.  The new tanks are double-hulled and therefore less prone to rupture.   The landing craft that brins the new tanks and removes the old can only manage 3 tanks at a time due to the window available each tide.  This still means, as part of the biosecurity management plan, that one of us has to watch the boat while the landing craft ramp is done - this can las four or more hours.........

We are waiting for another spell of good weather to allow the last load of tanks to be delivered and the crane to be removed. To avoid damaging potential archaeological deposits and as part of the Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic Environment Scotland the supports for the crane were laid on a bed of sand within terram sheeting to spread the load and reduce the compression on the soils below.

While disconcerting for visitors to see this crane on St Kilda, we hope the majority of them realise this is only a temporary addition that will be removed once the seas settle again.
Jonathan Wordsworth
St Kilda Archaeologist

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