The Port of Venice area is a world heritage site which has to find pioneering solutions to environmental issues in order to stay competitive. Because of its limitations in creating more capacity landside, to capture more trade, the Port of Venice has created an offshore onshore port system which can be decoupled to accommodate mega vessels. The offshore platform can be linked to the onshore terminals by road, rail or, more flexibly, by dedicated special barges.
This new Venice port capacity allows for an entry and exit point to the core Trans European Transport Network that minimise distances (and emissions) on the hinterland leg from sea to the European manufacturing epicentre.
The VPA, in order to continuously improve the management of environmental aspects, has set its own environmental policy, according to the environmental management system ISO 14001 principles.
Consequently, the VPA has defined programmes, objectives and procedures and attained its environmental certification in 2012.
This management system is a practical tool to monitor the environmental aspects related to port activities, their impacts and the positive effects of green initiatives.
Marta Citron, head of the environment unit at the technical department of Venice Port Authority told GreenPort that in terms of the environment, the port focus concerns several different environmental aspects because it is located in a unique and delicate ecosystem that needs to be preserved - the Venice Lagoon.
“The goal of Venice Port Authority (VPA) by law is to maintain harbour activities and to develop traffics, but it is clear that these goals can be achieved only preserving both the cultural heritage of the UNESCO site and the lagoon environment. Indeed, Venice and its lagoon, thanks to their unique characteristics, are the driving elements that attract tourists,” she said.
To achieve this, VPA is carrying out activities under the so called “Green Port” initiative, a range of concrete actions which have been strenuously encouraged by VPA over the recent years and which demonstrate VPA effort to enhance environment quality in terms of air, water, soil, sediments, efficient use of energy, integrated waste management, requalification of port areas, etc.
As far as air quality is concerned, as with other European ports, this is one of the focus areas in terms of environmental protection in Venice. This reflects the priority given to issues related to the health of people working or living around ports, in line with the European policy that aims to control the exhaust emissions of air pollutants by vessels.
Another key issue for VPA, strongly related to the protection of the Venice Lagoon and its inhabitants, is water quality.
During the last years, VPA has developed a deep knowledge of possible impacts deriving from stormwater runoff on port surfaces, and its impacts on receiving waters working towards a 360° integrated approach.
The pollution resulting from rainwater runoff of port areas is an important theme in the Venice area, as demonstrated by the Venice Lagoon special legislation that has been developed. The so called “Ronchi-Costa” ministerial decree means that since 1999, water discharges in the lagoon have to respect very low emission limits (in some cases lower than the limits adopted for drinkable water).
A first approach to reduce stormwater impacts deriving from port areas was implemented by Venice Port Authority before 2000, with a first flush segregation in a settling tank and discharge of following flush onto receiving bodies.
Through sample analysis, it was found that there was no relevant difference between first and second flush; moreover, by analysing contaminants and concentration in different water samples, it was found that there was a big issue with dissolved pollutants (especially metals) that cannot be removed by simple sedimentation or oil-water separation (eg traditional systems).
So VPA took a new approach, based on a site-specific design, focused not only on the first flush treatment, but on the whole rain event treatment, aiming at removing all pollutants in order to comply with the strict concentration limits at the outfall in the Venice Lagoon.
Thus, VPA adopted a new kind of treatment technology, based on a passive filtration, so that the whole stormwater runoff is treated, with no segregation between first flush and following portion of rain. This means increasing in treatment capacity and relevant reduction of impacts on water bodies.
As far as air quality is concerned, the VPA has recently renewed the “Venice Blue Flag Agreement”, signed with the Venice Harbor Master, the Venice Municipality and the main cruise companies. According to this voluntary agreement, cruise companies are encouraged to use vessels fuels with a low percentage of sulphur.
Environmental benefits of the “Venice Blue Flag” were analysed in 2015 and presented at the Copenhagen Greenport Cruise Conference, where it was demonstrated that a voluntary agreement represents the best solution balancing environmental, economic and feasibility aspects.
VPA is working together with VTP (Venice Passenger Terminal) to improve energy efficiency and to reduce energy consumption related to terminal facilities, by replacing traditional illuminating systems with LED technology systems. This has already allowed energy savings of 70%, in comparison with traditional light emitting systems.
In addition, since August 2015, another LED system, supported by solar panels, is in use along 15km of one of the main port canals, the Malamocco-Marghera.
Also, in 2016, two stormwater treatment plants have been realised in the Venice Passenger Terminal areas, thus fully complying with the strict local regulatory system and significantly reducing environmental impacts. These two plants represent a confirmation of the efficiency of this kind of treatment, since VPA realised its first one in 2008, which is still in use in another dock of the cruise terminal.
In addition, VTP also developed its own environmental management system, in accordance with the recommendations that VPA gives to the port community.
Paolo Costa, President Venice Port Authority, told GreenPort:
“As Venice and its lagoon are a site of national interest and world heritage, the development of economic activities - including port activities – must respect a series of restrictions that have stimulated public and private stakeholders to find pioneering solutions to environmental issues.”
“I’m sure that the conference will help to share all best practices (and Venice too) facilitating the adoption of concrete actions to fleet competitiveness, efficiency, and sustainability providing substantial environmental benefits as requested by the forthcoming stricter environmental regulations and the most recent EU directives.”