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Concrete 'reefballs' aid tsunami rebuild


A CURIOUS addition to the sunami relief works in Thailand is the 'reefball' project, under way at the island of Racha near Phuket.

The month-long scheme is using beach balls of vary g sizes as moulds to make spherical concrete balls with holes in them. These are to be placed on the seabead as substrata for new reefs.

The Racha scheme aims to replace damaged coral reefs for ecological restoration and as beach protection against future storm and tsunami events.

'The balls are various sizes - up to 2t - which are sunk and then seeded with fragments of coral from the debris of the tsunami, ' explained Kathy Kirbo, executive director for the US based Reefball Foundation.

The foundation has been developing the restoration system for just over a decade with dozens of schemes worldwide.

'Usually a new reef structure will be growing within a year, ' she said. Ball size and concrete mix are determined by the species of coral to be grown.

A team of 30 volunteers, chosen from 150 applicants, is working on the Thailand scheme, she said. These include ecologists, teachers, divers and some with construction experience. The foundation hopes to start on projects in the Maldives and Sri Lanka shortly, if possible before the summer monsoon sets in.

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