Crane crash delays dock work

WORK to install new flood gates at Ipswich docks is on hold today after part of the crane due to fit them collapsed.

Naomi Cassidy

WORK to install new flood gates at Ipswich docks is on hold today after part of the crane due to fit them collapsed.

The drama broke out on Saturday afternoon when the 800-tonne crane situated in the dock area, which was due to be used to erect the gates, apparently buckled under the heavy weights being hoisted onto it.

The new lock flood gates, constructed by Ravestein in Holland, arrived in Ipswich at the end of last week. They were due to be put in over the weekend as part of the Environment Agency's policy to protect 2,320 properties in Ipswich

The incident happened by the Wet Dock lock as the crane was self-rigging. It was as heavy weights were being put on the back of the crane to balance it that the leg of the crane slowly snapped and the weights fell onto the road-going cab where the driver would usually sit. No one was in the cab at the time and the two workers on the crane to help assemble it were not injured.

A full safety report is expected to be prepared into the incident to try to establish exactly what happened.

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Phil Usher, the Environment Agency's asset system management team leader for Suffolk and Norfolk, said: “They were assembling the crane and there was a structural failure.

“About 80 tonnes fell onto the back of the crane. It is a very unusual failure. It is not something we would ever expect to happen. “The crane will be taken back to Germany. At this stage we do not understand why this has happened. We hope to get further information about how it happened.

“We are looking to take it away in the next few days.”

A spokeswoman for the agency added: “Our contractors are looking to find another way to undertake the work. It is a big crane that is needed and will take a while to find another one.”

Each flood gate measures 9m by 11m and weights 45 tonnes. Tug boats were due to be on hand to manoeuvre the barges to help get the gates into the right position.

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