Innovation in Detecting Oil Spills at Sea

The company ISPAS AS, headquartered in Norway, recently announced that it has developed a Ku-band polarimetric Oil Spill Detection (OSD) radar that can detect oil spills at sea and the open water under most conditions including dead calm.

The radar is specifically developed for this purpose and uses a higher frequency than typical navigational X-band radars.  The radar has electrically steered antennas with both electromagnetic polarizations and can map an oil spill continuously using the steerable antenna.

Radar image (left) of the oil spill (seen on right).

ISPAS has completed the installation of 4 new OSD radars.  The radars small size and weight makes it easy to integrate without large structural foundations.

ISPAS participated in the 2018 “Oil on water” exercise offshore of Norway recently with a small version of the polarimetric Ku-band OSD radar. The small radar performed exceptionally well. An example showing the real time display of radar measurements of oil on seawater onboard a vessel is presented in this picture. The picture to the right presents the actual view of the sea.

The OSD radar

New Technology on Track to Vitalize Confined Space HazMat Training

by Steven Pike , Argon Electronics

Teams operating in confined spaces within hazardous industrial buildings or process facilities understand all too well the importance of adhering to strict health and safety regulations.

The hazards that confined spaces present can be physical or atmospheric in nature – from the risks of asphyxiation or entrapment to exposure to extremes of temperature or the release of toxic chemicals.

Confined Space Entry

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, on average two people die in the US every day as the result of incidents that take place within confined spaces.

In many cases too, it is not just the victim who is at risk, but the rescuer or first responder who may be unaware of the hazard they are about to encounter.

Directives such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH), the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), Atex and many others all have a pivotal role to play in ensuring safety.

But despite the emphasis on prevention, any potentially harmful chemical release, and specifically one that occurs within the context of a confined space, will require personnel who are skilled and confident to handle a variety of complex challenges.

With these challenges in mind, a new app-based multigas simulator technology, specifically designed for use in confined space settings, is scheduled for release in late summer 2018.

And the new system looks set to deliver an enhanced level of realism for industrial HazMat training scenarios.

Applying CWA Technology to Industrial HazMat Training

The use of simulation technology for chemical warfare agent (CWA) training is already well established, with intelligent, computer-based training aids such as Argon Electronics’ PlumeSIM and PlumeSIM-SMART systems currently in use by military forces around the world.

The launch of PlumeSIM in 2008 provided CWA and CBRN instructors with a simulation package that enabled them to use their laptops, in conjunction with a map or images, to plan a diverse range of field and table-top exercises.

The type of substance, whether a single or multiple source and an array of environmental conditions (such as wind direction and speed) could all be easily configured. And the innovative technology enabled whole exercises to be recorded for after action review (AAR) and future contingency planning.

In 2016 came the introduction of PlumeSIM-SMART – which offered similar capabilities to PlumeSIM but replaced the use of simulator devices in the field with the simplicity of a mobile phone.

The ability to transform a mobile phone into a look-alike gas detector was to prove especially practical (and budget-friendly) for high-hazard industrial organizations and municipal responders.

And using mobiles offered some additional and unexpected benefits in that it enabled field exercises to take place in any location.

Realistic Multigas Training

The newest addition to Argon’s simulation technology portfolio has been devised for specific use within the training environs of confined spaces and multi-level buildings.

The device will offer HazMat instructors the flexibility to simulate specific levels and concentrations of gases, whether these be in the form of a gas escape or a dangerous device (or devices) concealed within a building.

It will also be highly configurable to enable instructors to select the use of either single or multigas sensors within their training scenarios.

The hardware will be identical to that currently available for CWA training and toxic industrial response training. It has also been configured to interact with existing hand-held gas detection simulators, such as PlumeSIM-SMART, to provide an enhanced level of realism and a more focused training experience.

Simulation sources will be able to be set to emit a signal that replicates the conditions of a particular substance, a low level or oxygen or an explosive atmosphere.

And as students move around the training environment, their display readings will adjust accordingly to simulate an event such as a breached alarm.

The latest detector also promises to overcome the issues posed by communications interference within buildings where GPS technology can often be limited.

Working in confined spaces within industrial complexes can present a daunting array of hazards, both for the staff operating within the facilities and for the emergency teams charged with first response.

The continued development of simulator technology can help to address these challenges by providing realistic, hands-on training opportunities that replicate real-life conditions.

This article was originally published in the Argon Electronics website.

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About the Author

Steven Pike is the Founder and Managing Director of Argon Electronics, a world leader in the development and manufacture of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and hazardous material (HazMat) detector simulators.

In use worldwide, Argon simulators have applications for training and preparedness within civil response, the military, EoD, unconventional terrorism / accidental release, and international treaty verification, with a growing presence in the nuclear energy generation and education markets. We have been granted a number of international patents in this field.

Are there Greenhouse Gas Emission Savings in Hazmat or Remediation Projects?

Up to $575,000 in support available for winners of contest held on Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Climate CoLab platform

The Centre of Social Innovation in Toronto recently launched a contest to solicit a broad range of possible solutions to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ontario reduce their direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The winning proposals will be eligible to receive funding and support to pilot their solutions in Ontario over eight months.

In-situ remedation may generated GHG credits vs. dig-and-dump

The contest, now sourcing proposals on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Climate CoLab platform, allows members of the public to provide feedback to proposal authors, and to cast votes for the People’s Choice Winner.  A panel of judges will select 3-5 winning proposals based on their desirability, feasibility, scalability and impact to potentially be piloted in Ontario.

SMEs make up 98.2% of businesses in Canada, and emit as much climate change-causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year as Canada’s combined transportation sector, including every car, truck, train, plane, and ship. Reducing their emissions can benefit SMEs by helping them grow while also building healthier communities.

“Recent research from the University of Waterloo shows us that the vast majority of SMEs believe that sustainability is important,” said Barnabe Geis, Director of Programs at the Centre for Social Innovation. “We want to support the implementation of solutions – whether technologies, programs or services – that help SMEs meet their sustainability goals as a powerful way to both strengthen our economy and improve the health and well-being of our communities.”

Barnabe Geis,
Director of Programs, Centre for Social Innovations – Toronto

Many SMEs face barriers to lowering their emissions, from lacking the technical expertise to assess options for reducing emissions to not being able to afford the upfront costs of a low-carbon technology. However, once the right technologies or practices are implemented, the savings and other benefits to SMEs can be substantial. This contest will offer support to demonstrate the value and scalability of solutions in order to make the path towards sustainability more accessible to SMEs across the province.

There may be opportunities in the hazmat and remediation sectors to reduce the generation of GHGs from SMEs.  If so, the contest offers a great chance to secure third-party funding to pursue the opportunities.

The contest is open to proposal submissions until August 3, 2018. Proposals submitted prior to July 11th, will be reviewed by the Judges and given feedback before the contest deadline.

For further information on the contest, contact Barnabe Geis, Director of Programs at the Centre of Social Innovation at barnabe@socialinnovation.ca.

Oil Spill Response using Real Time Tracking and GIS Technology

A new project taking place of the coastline of St. John’s Newfoundland aims to reshape marine oil spill response through real-time tracking and GIS technology.

Integrated Informatics Inc., headquartered in Houston,Texas, recently received funding from the Newfoundland and Labrador Innovation Council to undertake a project that will aim to reshape the way in which asset and personnel tracking are handled for Marine Oil Spill Response in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In November 2008, the Odyssey, a British-owned oil tanker, broke in two, caught fire and sank in heavy seas about 900 miles east of Newfoundland, spilling about a million barrels of oil.

The project will include the development of a new Tracking Data Management System to be deployed to Marine Emergency Response Industry users.

A spokesperson for Integrated Informatics, Sharon Janes, stated in a press release, “It is not uncommon to still see paper maps and documents heavily relied upon in Emergency Response Plans.  The problem with these resources is that they do not present information that is as complete and current as possible within an emergency situation. This is what we are excited to help change – putting this data into the hands of responders as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The Tracking Data Management System will be completed by August 2019, consisting of a suite of applications for asset and personnel tracking and a data management system to streamline the acquisition of data necessary for emergency preparedness exercises and active response within command centers.  These products will utilize Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – including rich mobile and web interfaces – as well as a robust data analytics and reporting dashboard.

Ms. Janes also stated, “By accessing asset and personnel tracking data through mobile devices and the web, first responders will be able to more efficiently interpret data, analyze trends, and plan response in real-time. Because this system rests on such a familiar platform [mobile, web], those with technical and non-technical backgrounds alike will be able to implement it into their workflows with ease.”

The planned system is one that has long been of interest within the Emergency Response and Natural Resources sectors of the Province – especially as organizations explore new, more challenging environments alongside their own endeavors to align processes and practices with innovative digital technologies.

Integrated Informatics Inc. is a consultancy for Geographic Information System implementation and development. Founded in 2002, Integrated Informatics has offices in Calgary, Alberta, Houston, Texas, and St. John’s, Newfoundland.