By Will Lindsey, Environmental Defense Fund
Louisiana-based company HESCO Bastion Environmental, Inc. is at the forefront of business innovations in response to the growing market for coastal restoration projects. Finding new uses for established products, the company is now involved in creating artificial oyster reefs and protective structures for wetlands. This arena of work is expected to expand and create more jobs in coastal communities as the RESTORE Act funds and other monies from the BP oil spill begin to flow.
HESCO’s original product, the Concertainer, is a barrier system that consists of galvanized welded mesh framed baskets complete with a non-woven geotextile liner. The product is offered in different dimensions and when properly assembled and filled with substrate, such as sand, creates a system of “walls of exceptional strength and integrity.” In the past, the Concertainer has been used primarily for flood protection and by the U.S. armed forces as a barrier against force.
Now, in the face of coastal erosion in the Gulf Coast, the Concertainer has been adapted to take on the challenge of coastal restoration. The aptly named “Concertainer Delta Unit” maintains the original shape and design of the Concertainer, but adds front, unlined compartments. These front compartments, which alternate between rectangular and triangular shapes, can be filled with materials, such as oyster shells, that provide habitat for aquatic organisms. The lined section can be filled with other substrates that encourage coastal plant life to be established. This allows for the restoration of coastal environments by creating a “living shoreline.”
Working with the University of New Orleans, HESCO demonstrated that the Concertainer could be used as an effective coastal restoration tool, by helping to rebuild degraded shoreline near New Orleans. Currently, with the potential for millions of dollars in funding to be directed to coastal restoration through the RESTORE Act and other payments from the BP oil spill, coastal restoration companies like HESCO could see a significant growth in business.
“Our products provide a low-cost solution to a wide range of coastal restoration and protection challenges, from oyster reef construction to flood protection,” said Stephanie Victory, president of HESCO Bastion Environmental, Inc. “We have completed projects all over the world…from emergency flood responses in Thailand to building HESCO Delta Unit oyster reefs just north of Gulf Shores, Ala. We are thrilled that the RESTORE Act passage will create more opportunities for jobs and coastal restoration efforts back home in Louisiana and across the Gulf region.”