|Abstract: ||The purpose of this document is to fulfil the requirements to get necessary environmental
clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out the remaining works of the
proposed Oceanside channel dredging project in Meedhoo, Addu City. A part of the channel has
already been dredged and completed but the outer rim of the channel could not be dredged or
dislodged using conventional methods. It is proposed to undertake controlled reef blasting to
dislodge the hard substrate. The proponent of this project is Ministry of Housing and
The rationale for the proposal to blast the reef entrance is based on the fact that all other options
available in the Maldives have failed to dislodge the hard substrate. The project already has had
two contractors, both of whom had failed to cut through the outer reef rim. The present
contractor was handed the task of finishing the project by Ministry of Housing based on a special
request by the Meedhoo locals. The contractor has tried a number methods, including drop
hammer, but has not been successful in dislodging the substrate. The only remaining financially
feasible option is to use controlled blasting. The project has been dragging on for six years and
the longer marine works continue, the higher the impacts on marine and coastal environment.
Failure to complete the channel will also be a waste of public money as 90% of the project has
already been completed.
The site already has about a 905 m x 35 m channel dredged to a depth of -3.5 m. The originally
planned channel was 920 m x 35 m. The area in question is the last 15 m of hard substrate before
it reaches the ocean.
The project proposes to dislodge the 15 m x 27 m section of the reef using about 50 bags of 25
kg Ammonia Nitrate placed 1 m apart along two rows.
All proposed project activities are in conformance to the laws and regulations of the Maldives,
and relevant international conventions that Maldives is party to. The key laws and regulations
applicable to this project are: Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, Environmental
Impact Assessment Regulation 2012 and Dredging and Reclamation Regulation.
Significant impacts of this project during construction phase of the project are the potential
impact of underwater noise and vibration on marine life, potential damage to property due to
vibration, potential formation of reef slope cracks and sedimentation and turbidity associated
with dredging. The project is being carried out in proximity to a listed sensitive area. All these
impacts apart from potential geological impacts are reversible. Any damage to the reef substrate
could be irreversible. Thus, the potential geological impacts will be a risk for this project.
The main mitigation measures include carrying out construction activities during low tide hours
and calm weather, carrying out the work during daylight hours, informing the public about
blasting activities and, schedule and proper supervision of all activities by qualified personnel. A
precautionary approach is required for this project due to the unknowns associated with the
geological impacts. It is recommended to minimised the charges to the lowest required levels
and reduce the critical ground vibration distance (i.e. 10 mm/s) from the blast site. The site
should be monitored for reef cracks. If any cracks are observed and depending on the severity of
the cracks, all reef blasting activity must be ceased until geological assessments determine it is
safe to proceed. Windy days should be avoided especially if the wind is blowing from the west.
There are safety risks associated with this project. It has been recommended not to allow any
snorkelling or diving within a 1.5 km radius of the blast site. This should include sand miners,
fishermen and tourists, among others.
The “No Project” option was explored. The project involves significant risks to physical
environment. Given the community’s desire to complete this channel, the benefits it bring to the
fishing community, and potential loss of public money if this project is not completed, the No
Project option has a higher opportunity cost. However, in the absence of a viable alternative, it
was recommended that EPA consider approving this project based on conditions. Alternative
methods to dislodge the hard substrate were considered, but these options have already been
tried and failed.
The monitoring plan is designed to assess damages to reef structure, infrastructure and housing,
and loss of marine life. Physical environment damage will be checked using marine surveys and
damage to nearby buildings will be undertaken in specific sites and based on complaint. Damage
to biological environment will focus on larger fish and protected species.
The management plan for this project has been updated to include the key management
requirements before and during blasting activity.
The support for this project is mixed. In the consultations undertaken for the original EIAs and
this Addendum, there is overwhelming support by the locals from Meedhoo and Hulhudhoo for
this project. The City Council supports this project but is apprehensive about reef blasting as
they believe it is detrimental to the future of Addu City. EPA and MRC do not encourage reef
This report has highlighted the risks and impacts associated with reef blasting on the site. It has
also provided actions that can avoid or minimize the known risks. This report should now be
used as a decision making tool by the implementing agency and regulatory authority to
determine how to proceed with the project. There is no legal hindrance for this project to go
ahead. If the proponent and EPA decides to move forward with the project, the following course
of action is essential to align the project with sustainable development principles.
1. Use the minimum charge possible to effectively dislodge the substrate and minimise the
radius of critical ground vibration (i.e. 10 mm/s)
2. Continuous monitoring of the site for reef cracks. If any cracks are observed and
depending on the severity of the cracks, all reef blasting activity must be ceased until
geological assessments determine it is safe to proceed.
3. Given the potential impact of this project on the public and the future generations, it is
recommended that EPA take all possible measures to solicit views from the public for
4. Safety precautions are essential. Divers, sand miner, fishermen and swimmers need to be
properly informed in a timely manner and monitored during work days.|