Large Oil Spills Detection and Polluter Identification in the Black Sea using SAR Images and AIS data
Ivanov, Andrei1; Filimonova, Natalia2; Antonyuk, Anna2; Evtushenko, Natalia2
1P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, RUSSIAN FEDERATION; 2SCANEX R&D Center, RUSSIAN FEDERATION

During routine satellite monitoring of the eastern part of the Black Sea in 2011-2012 the unprecedented large (up to hundreds km2) oil slicks having a ship origin have been detected on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images acquired by the Envisat, Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2 satellites. These slicks had complicated, mostly linear form, and were found in the Russian sector of the sea or at its borders with the Ukrainian and Turkish sectors in summer period. Using data of the automated ship identification system (AIS) the successful attempts to identify the vessels involved in oil pollution have been made. On the basis of the complex analysis of SAR images together with AIS data, it is shown that the vessels responsible for these oil spills and their captains not always operated in the legal frameworks. The most possible source of these large spills is the tank washing in the open sea after transportation of vegetable oils, other liquid chemical substances and even oil products as well as discharges of engine room/bilge waters. Moreover tank washing, as a routine operation in the Black Sea, are frequently produced neglecting the requirements of the International Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL), and out of an operative range of national coastal AIS. This paper for the first time presents the results of monitoring that show that the central part of the Black Sea is chosen for tank washing operations as well as for illegal dumping of oily products. A legality of producing of these spills in the Black Sea in the frameworks of the MARPOL is also discussed. These and other similar events registered during the monitoring require attention of the international environmental and nature protection organizations. Summary maps of large oil spills detected in the Eastern Black Sea in 2011 and 2012 are presented and discussed. They allowed outlining the marine region, where tank washing and illegal dumping occur most frequently.