On-Line Oil Spill Monitoring

If the Fertile Crescent is the where agricultural and urban civilization was conceived, then the Mediterranean Sea is the womb in which it grew and developed into a form recognizable as the antecedent of modern Western Civilization. It’s waters have witnessed the passage of Phoenician traders and Helene colonists and raiders, and became the thoroughfare which enabled Rome, whose heritage underlies our institutions to this day, to maintain a unified Empire for centuries. However, that heritage is at risk, as modern shipping and industrial development release toxic wastes, and particularly oil spills all over the Mediterranean. On-line oil spill monitoring has become a central tool in limiting the damage and saving our common heritage.

Recently, the EU launched the “‘Automatic oil-spill recognition and geopositioning integrated in a marine monitoring network” (ARGOMARINE) project. This project is intended to develop a network of on-line oil spill monitoring platforms which would monitor major shipping lanes, and to develop a data management system for public use.

Process failure monitoring

Oil spills are ultimately expressions of process failure. Pipes leak. The bunding tank overflows. The sealant degrades. The response teams are not notified of the leak or lack relevant and actionable information. Process failure monitoring can, provided it is sufficiently diligent, identify the problem before it develops and hence help contain the damage, as well as aid in improving processes.
 

Process failure monitoring is particularly important for reducing the damage caused by small and micro oil spills. large oil spills, which receive the lion’s share of media attention, cannot benefit to the same extent from process failure monitoring because they often stem from catastrophic failure, result in an at least temporary shutdown of the facility responsible for the spill, and represent the culmination of many defects.

Reliable on-line monitoring

Small and micro oil spills, in contrast, are usually only acknowledged by the authorities and local citizens who are directly or indirectly affected by these pollution events. However, small oil spills represent the vast majority of oil
pollution events. Reliable on-line monitoring can keep these spills from slipping under the radar, as it were, and ensure they receive the attention they require for the situation to be remedied. Nor is this a public versus private conflict.

Companies can save money by leak monitoring, both by achieving compliance with an increasingly strict regulatory environment and by reducing loss of valuable hydrocarbon resources, reducing cleanup costs, reducing health care costs and compensation for employees, and red flagging equipment and procedure inadequacies through process failure monitoring.

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