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Challenging repair job for the Environment Agency

Never one to turn down a challenge when it comes to specialist repairs, Plastic Surgeon jumped at the chance to provide a solution when they received a call for help from The Environment Agency in Cornwall to assess damage to a fish counter on the Gunnislake Weir on the River Tamar in Plymouth.

The River Tamar in South West England, is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and forms most of the border between Devon (to the east) and Cornwall (to the west).

Fish counters, such as the one on on the River Tamar, provide a measure of the number, size and age of salmon and sea trout returning to the river. They also provide information on the timing of fish migrations in relation to environmental factors such as river flow, water temperature and tidal cycle. Information from fish counters is used to assess the health of salmonid populations and to formulate effective management plans.

Polypropelene repairThe repair was on a resistivity fish counter, a specific type of counter which uses three stainless steel electrodes to detect the size and direction of travel of the fish.

The electrodes are set into a sheet of white polypropylene, and it was the joints and inserts in this sheeting that needed repairing with a specialist polyurethane cold weld filler which is only manufactured in black. The Environment Agency need to collect video footage of fish passing over the electrode array to assess the detection and sizing efficiency of the counter and to investigate anomalies in the counter data. A dark filler would have given the fish counter an unsightly look and could have made it difficult to pick out fish from the video footage. Plastic Surgeon developed a bespoke translucent version of the specialist filler with the manufacturers.

As the repair work was carried out in unusual surroundings – within the fish pass at the River Tamar – this meant that additional considerations for health and safety had to be made. Unusual PPE was worn by the Finishers, in the form of lifejackets and wellies!

After an initial assessment, Plastic Surgeon sent a team of Finishers to complete work repairing the fish counter to prolong its life and help prevent further deterioration in the future.

Repairs were carried out on the polypropylene sheet and inserts that housed the electrodes for the fish counter. The experienced finishers removed the original welded plastic on the fish counter before beginning the filling process with the bespoke translucent polyurethane cold weld filler. After masking off the surrounding areas, the finishers sanded down the areas to complete the repair.

Rob Mouser, Plastic Surgeon Managing Director loves a challenge:

“This was an unusual request and not our normal type of job or repair. It does demonstrate our flexibility and our ‘can do’ approach which applies to all our customers. We always try to solve a problem and our highly skilled team of finishers look for new ways of approaching problems, even if they haven’t tackled a similar repair before”.

The Environment Agency was very impressed with Plastic Surgeon’s work, which avoided them having to take the fish counter out of service during a busy monitoring period.

Paul Elsmere from the Environment Agency’s Environmental monitoring team in Cornwall commissioned the works having found out about Plastic Surgeon’s specialist repair service by searching the internet:

“We called upon Plastic Surgeon because they did not dismiss the job out of hand. They were willing to work with us, take on a job that was not within their normal remit and come up with a workable solution. I would certainly use them again and would recommend them to other people.”

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