David Cook first encountered microtunnelling technology in 1985 in the North East of England. A water company resident engineer who thought he might be interested in the technology “÷smuggled’ him on site. That was where he saw his first Iseki Uncle Mole.
“I was totally impressed and found the whole concept to be intuitive and without doubt “÷the way forward’ for thousands of kilometres of smaller diameter Victorian sewers in the UK that required replacement and enhancement at that time,” Mr Cook said.
In 1991, one major contract later, Mr Cook became the Chief Engineer responsible for setting up the microtunnelling division for a medium-sized tunnelling company in the UK and was employed for 20 years.
The big move
Mr Cook said he has always enjoyed travelling for work and pleasure.
“I came to Australia to experience the challenge of contributing in a very different market and to get away from the cold and wet weather “÷enjoyed’ by the UK.”
Mr Cook moved to Australia in June 2008; his wife and family moved to join him a year later in 2009.
The first Australian trenchless project Mr Cook worked on was the Epping Craigieburn Tunnel Sewer. As a consultant, this involvement began on the morning of his first day at work, less than 48 hours after arriving in Australia.
Mr Cook observed some of the major differences between the Australian trenchless industry and that of the UK trenchless market.
“In Australia, the generation of much higher volumes of hydrogen sulphide in wastewater networks and the subsequent need for resistant linings to protect concrete pipes is almost unheard of in the North West of England.
“This situation generates higher material costs and the need for extra care and protection when handling and installing the pipes during construction,” Mr Cook said.
Mr Cook also pointed out that, compared to the UK, there are relatively few companies that own and operate fleets of microtunnelling systems in Australia, and that Australia has fewer underground services.
“This generally allows for easier location of pipelines, drive and reception shafts without the need for major service diversions.”
The Victorian Desalination Project
Mr Cook is currently engaged by the independent reviewer for the tunnelling and marine works on the Victorian Desalination Project near Wonthaggi.
As one of the most memorable projects he has worked on in Australia, Mr Cook said the quality of tunnels produced, and speed with which they have been installed, has been world class and very impressive.
“The men and machines are some of the best I have ever worked with,” Mr Cook said.