PEPSEA Project: WebGIS System for Marine Pollution Management Created

Lauren Simmonds

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As Morski writes, the entire system of marine pollution management in closed off parts of the sea (deemed a crisis response system) has been raised to a higher level.

The WebGIS platform, which boasts integrated data for the measuring of equipment, enables the viewing and management of data, as well as communication between users via the web service itself. Since information on the location and cause of the crisis can be crucial, and the WebGIS system, with its functionality, allows for the quick and easy management of (spatial) data, the system has been given to the Split-Dalmatia County Fire Brigade.

With the aim of achieving a high level of strategic action, improving communication between services and employees, easier access to key data in crisis situations and simplifying operational processes, an unlimited number of users and organisations can use the system and communicate quickly, easily and efficiently.

Furthermore, in the event of marine pollution being discovered, the PEPSEA project’s WebGIS system, with regard to integration with marine monitoring stations, automatically notifies system users that pollution has occurred in order to have them react promptly to it.

In addition to “live” data on marine pollution, the WebGIS system also contains data on bathymetric and geodetic surveys, stereo images, multispectral images, water and sediment analysis and intervention plans, and the system allows users to enter new and modify existing data at any given time, all with the aim of having a complete and accurate database that is the basis for making timely and quality decisions at both strategic and operational levels.

With the funds and activities of the PEPSEA project, the first buoy with sensors was installed in Kastela Bay in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea, and a unique floating tank of five cubic metres was procured. Two IP cameras have been installed on Cemex’s towers, and a drone worth 150,000 kuna has been procured to record the extent of the pollution and coordinate remediation and rescue operations from the air. In addition, 500 metres of absorbent and 400 metres of rigid dams, packages for the remediation of pollution in ports and complete protective equipment for human use were all also procured.

Tomislav Vidic, senior expert associate of the Administrative Department for Tourism and Maritime Affairs of Split-Dalmatia County, explained precisely what was gained by installing this equipment, who manages it, and how they do so.

”In cooperation with firefighters, we installed two cameras on the Cemex towers, and then a buoy with pollution sensors in the Kastela Bay, for which we had to obtain eight permits from various ministries that are to be renewed every three years. In this way, in the event of marine pollution, we’ll be able to ensure the operation of the emergency services within the “golden hour”, ie before the stain on the sea’s surface spreads uncontrollably by being carried by the wind and the currents. The sensor on the buoy monitors all changes at sea and notifies the fire brigade via email, which then, in the case of pollution, alerts the Harbour Master’s Office, and those responsible for solving the situation at hand.

The Harbour Master’s Office has data on the movement of ships in order to find out which of them is the source of pollution, and cameras are especially helpful in this work. A drone can also be sent up, which gives the best insight into the situation on the ground both before and during the remediation action. Kastela Bay is a special area which is endangered not only by mercury and other pollutants from former factories in the Kastela area, such as Jugovinil, but also by  thedaily transfer of fuel from tankers to the INA terminal, as well as various raw materials in the northern port.

According to Vidic, as part of the PEPSEA project (Protecting the Enclosed Parts of the Sea in the Adriatic from Pollution), training sessions for firefighters were organised in order to better handle this sophisticated equipment and get involved in the firefighting and rescue operations at sea.

The PEPSEA project is otherwise a cross-border project implemented by four partners each from the Croatian and Italian sides. The project is worth a total of 2.9 million euros, of which 513 thousand euros went to Split-Dalmatia County. It is being co-financed from the Interreg V-A Italy-Croatia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020.

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