Maintenance and Testing of MoSE Begins: Cleaning the Dams and Inspecting the Hinges

Experts are concerned about the serious delay in addressing the problems of the underwater structures. Tomorrow leaders of the Control Room appear at the Prefettura. The cries of alarm from experts about the condition of the mechanism and its impact on the lagoon have been ignored for years.

[Ed. Note: I was in Venice in late November when a third Acqua Granda was prevented by MoSE. This was followed by several more potential acqua alta events, but flooding in the city was largely limited to Piazza San Marco (where happily the Basilica now sits dry behind its brilliant glass barriers). All of Venice was grateful to have been spared another disaster – it was just another stormy night thanks to MoSE. So, reiterating the many problems connected to MoSE is now all the more urgent. The bottom line is it worked, and for now it must be cared for and completed, because for the time being Venice is depending on it.]

11 January 2023

By Alberto Vitucci

MoSE works, even if it is not finished and has not been tested. But many problems remain unresolved. In the first place is maintenance, which has been seriously delayed. Then there are the other interventions yet to be completed and the huge mechanism’s impact on the lagoon. The leaders of the Control Room will talk about this tomorrow, summoned to report to the Prefettura.

Maintenance

There is concern about the serious delay in addressing the crucial problem facing MoSE, a structure that lives under sea water. Work on cleaning the dams at Tessera, which have been submerged for ten years, have just begun. The bid for this work was won by Fincantieri (for 18 million euro), but the interventions are just at the beginning. There is also work to be done at the other mouths of the port, at Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia, all of which have been stalled. The bid for these will happen within a few weeks, after originally having been issued a year and half ago by former supervisor Zincone, and then blocked by the Consorzio and the commissioner. Meanwhile Fincantieri has put itself in the running for a partnership in the project, worth 58 million euro annually for maintenance. But here too the delay is great, and the condition of the underwater mechanisms must be verified. The cries of alarm from experts have been ignored for years. Serious problems remain unresolved, such as the replacement of corroding bolts, the data transmission boxes and the encrusted parts of the hinges.

Consultation

“It is necessary to begin a full study of the final work based on the design specification”, said Susanna Ramundo, a corrosion expert at the Magistrate alle Acque, “and above all to understand the state of the work’s stability”. Commissioner Elisabetta Spitz has assigned this new task to the French engineer Nicholas Larché (for 67,400 euro and with a deadline of July 2023), who now must evaluate “the life-cycle of the bolt tensioners”, which are the heart of MoSE’s hinges. Last year Larché, after an inspection, sought to calm concerns about the health of the hinges, saying “We just need to apply some grease”.

Subsidence

Another problem that will be elaborated during tomorrow’s conference, organized by the CNR, is that of subsidence. The areas where the imposing MoSE base structures have been installed scholars have shown a lowering of the sea floor that is greater than in the rest of the lagoon. It will be a matter of carefully monitoring this aspect, since the space between the dams is only a few centimeters, and the structures are perfectly aligned. For this reason each dam block is equipped with a computer and “accelerators”, instruments that are able to measure the smallest shifts.

The Lagoon

The subject here is that of how to save the lagoon from the effects of MoSE. According to scientist Luigi D’Alpaos the increasing frequency of closures of the barriers (they have been raised 44 times in the last year and half) will cause the loss of sandbars in the lagoon due to the lack of the sediments that nourish them. The effects of currents and the erosion caused by excavations are also already quite visible. “The coexistence of the lagoon and MoSE must be regulated” say the experts, “by understanding and studying the effects of the interventions”.

Appointments

Meanwhile in Rome, at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Lorenzo Quinzi, the former director of the Ministry of Tourism is in “pole position” for director of personnel. Quinzi was a candidate for supervisor last year but was not given the office. Also in play is the position of Ilaria Bramezza, the director nominated by Giovannini, as well as that of the commissioner appointed by the Conte government, Elisabetta Spitz, formerly director of the Demanio. Finally there is the Authority for the Lagoon. The idea of nominating prefect Vittorio Zappalorto is being considered, as well as Giovanni Mainolfi, the general of the Guardia di Finanza.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre


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