The United States Coast Guard, 11th District Marine Safety Division, has completed initial testing of the Probe for Oil Pollution Evidence In the Environment (POPEIE). Utilizing a unique combination of new and existing technologies, POPEIE provides a tool to assist in the prosecution of illegal dumping of oil at sea by gathering an oil sample from the sea surface when deployed from aircraft performing pollution patrols.

The immediate field sample obtained by POPEIE is used as evidence to help identify and prosecute those who illegally discharge oil at sea. Suspect vessels known to have been in the vicinity, or observed near the slick, are boarded at the earliest opportunity to obtain samples for comparison purposes. Samples obtained by POPEIE and from suspect vessels are forwarded to the USCG Marine Safety Laboratory (MSL). The MSL matches characteristic “fingerprints” of these samples using spectral analysis and provides indisputable evidence for prosecution.

Initial testing of POPEIE was conducted at the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environment Test Tank (OHMSETT). The 11th CG District Marine Safely Division conducted the tests to demonstrate the ability of the sampling mechanism to obtain a sample that would be sufficient for analysis by the MSL. Results showed a 100% success rate at collecting a sample and a 50% success rate at collecting an identifiable sample due to buoyancy problems. Phase 2 POPEIE has been constructed by InterOcean Systems, Inc. and builds on the success of the initial testing, with design modifications to improve reliability and to incorporate a standard electronics package that will make the device compatible with existing USCG systems. Phase 2 POPEIE successfully completed USCG Air Safety Certification and is ready for deployment.

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