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April 2015 Issue

R4WO Begins Cruise For Global Pollution Assessment
The Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO) sailed off from Bordeaux, France, the expedition’s departure city, in March. Initiated by the Race for Water Foundation, the R4WO aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans. In 300 days, more than 40,000 nautical miles will be traveled, with 11 scientific stopovers and nine outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries.

Even though they constitute a major environmental disaster, the waste gyres in the oceans are still relatively unknown. The goal of this scientific sailing expedition is to draw up an initial global assessment of the pollution.

The R4WO also aims to raise awareness about marine pollution. An estimated 80 percent of the trash polluting the oceans comes from human activities.

The six-member crew will be headed by Marco Simeoni, founder of the Race for Water Foundation and leader of the expedition. The trimaran and its crew set sail for Azores, Portugal, the first of the scientific stopovers. Eventually, they will return to Bordeaux in mid-December 2015.

EU Project to Build Robotic Underwater Mining Prototype
As part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation program, a new 42-month R&D project has been launched to help provide an opportunity to tap into the wealth of unexploited European mineral resources. The estimated cost of the project is approximately €12.6 million.

Called ¡VAMOS! (Viable Alternative Mine Operating System), the project is to design and build a robotic, underwater mining prototype with launch and recovery equipment, which will be used to perform field tests at four EU mine sites. Three of these are inland, inactive submerged mineral deposits, and the other is offshore. Building on successful deep-sea excavation techniques, this prototype will provide a safer and cleaner option for extracting currently unreachable and/or uneconomic mineral deposits.

¡VAMOS! will also look to enhance currently available underwater sensing, spatial awareness, navigational and positioning technology, as well as provide an integrated solution for efficient real-time monitoring of the parameters associated with potential environmental impacts.

BMT Group Ltd. (Teddington, England) will coordinate the project and will also create an advanced situation awareness system for it. The company will provide 3D visualization of the mining environment in order to support the operator in supervising the mining application. Included will be both the mining system prototype and the environmental impacts monitor.

Moskito Addresses Oil Pollution Threat From Wrecks
A tool for removing oil trapped in submerged vessels, the Moskito, has been developed by Miko Marine (Oslo, Norway).

This technology addresses the pollution threat that exists with the large numbers of sunken ships around the world that still contain significant quantities of oil in their tanks as cargo or bunker fuel.

Many of the thousands of ships sunk during World War II now have 70 years of corrosion eating at their plates, and the days are drawing inexorably closer when the pollutants that they contain will escape. The only solutions are to either seal the wreck at great expense or to recover the pollutant in a controlled manner. The Moskito can remove the oil in a speedy and cost-effective operation.

The Moskito can be deployed by divers or by an ROV to any ocean depth. Once in position outside the tank, the Moskito’s three powerful magnetic feet are planted against the steel hull and a technician on the surface then activates a 75-millimeter-diameter electrically powered tank cutter drill. With its operation controlled through a dual video link, the Moskito’s drill pierces the steel tank walls up to 40 millimeters thick. The cut disc then falls away inside and is immediately followed into the tank by a spring latch coupling that automatically connects and locks a hose to the tank without allowing any of its contents to escape. With the hose securely in position, a subsea pump can be activated to extract the oil at the rate of up to 12 cubic meters per hour and send it to the surface for safe, nonpolluting recovery.

OCS Sand Goes to Dam Neck Shore Protection
BOEM and Naval Air Station Oceana at Dam Neck, Virginia, announced that a shore protection project at the Dam Neck annex was expected to begin in March. Sand from the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to be used for this project will enhance coastal resilience by protecting shoreline infrastructure. In addition, the project will restore shorebird and sea turtle nesting habitat and improve the recreational beach in this Virginia Beach community.

Dredging by Navy contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (Oak Brook, Illinois) was to start from the Sandbridge Shoal about 3 miles offshore to stabilize and restore the Dam Neck Annex oceanfront and dune system.

The entire project area is about 2 miles long. Within that area, the sand dune runs about 1 mile, is 20 feet high and 50 feet wide.

As the federal agency authorized to lease sand from the OCS, BOEM executed an agreement with the Navy for use of up to 700,000 cubic yards of OCS sand for the project.

This is the third reconstruction cycle for Dam Neck.

Dam Neck is located on the Atlantic coast, 5 miles south of Virginia Beach. The base is the home of specialized training and support services in response to fleet requirements, with a concentration on major naval weapons systems.

The project will comply with all applicable environmental, historic preservation and coastal zone management laws to avoid and protect environmental or historical resources. Alternatively, the Navy will take steps to mitigate impacts to those resources. If any unanticipated discovery takes place, such as paleocultural or marine archaeological sites or munitions and explosives of concern, BOEM and the Navy will determine together how best to manage it, in accordance with applicable requirements.


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