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Dutch company lands contract for coastal defenses of New Orleans

Storm surge barrier a possibility

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

BRUSSELS - Dutch consulting and engineering firm Arcadis recently has won a $150-million contract to protect the coast of New Orleans in the United States.

Arcadis, which employs 3,500 people in the U.S., will be working in New Orleans as part of a joint venture with U.S. company Bioengineering.

New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005. Efforts so far have concentrated on clearing the rubble and repairing parts of the city and its infrastructure.

The contract is the first one to add protection to the area’s coast for the long term. CEO Harry Noy said Arcadis won the contract, which had been bid for by around 40 companies. He said his firm already is big in the United States, and won because of the Dutch expertise and experience in water management.

Over the past 18 months Arcadis has been inspecting the levies around New Orleans, and has carried out a feasibility study into a storm surge barrier. The new contract would involve design, consultancy and guidance on implementation, the report added.

Arcadis will look into building and strengthening levies as well as the environmental impact of these activities. The Americans are very interested in storm surge barriers such as in the Nieuwe Waterweg near Rotterdam, which protects the land and still allows shipping traffic.

The company also will consider the even longer term and will draw up plans for the coastal defenses of the entire southern part of Louisiana as well. Deltas like that are extremely vulnerable, said Noy.