IEO: CSIC scientists denounce that their middle is falling aside | Science | EUROtoday

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Peeling partitions, cornices which are falling aside, a punctured rubber boat mendacity on the bottom, partitions with graffiti that somebody did a very long time in the past. It is the outside look of the middle of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) in San Pedro del Pinatar, in Murcia.

This marine analysis laboratory was constructed within the Nineteen Seventies to check the Mediterranean and the Mar Menor. Since then, and regardless of the wear and tear and tear of being positioned in entrance of the ocean, it has barely been renovated or painted. Last 12 months a bit of cornice fell on a parked automotive. Other items have crashed on to the bottom. The restore of the injury that this middle has suffered for greater than a decade and the place about 75 folks work has been stopped for months.

The worst of all, Marina Albentosa and Juan Manuel Ruiz, scientists from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) who lead two massive scientific initiatives for the restoration of the Mar Menor right here, acknowledge with boredom, is that when folks from exterior come and see the constructing —positioned subsequent to one of many city's most visited seashores— they are saying: “You are here as you want.”

Last 12 months, a building group that needed to perform work on the highest ground warned of the poor situation of the columns that assist an outdated seawater tank and that they appeared utterly corroded. It was obligatory to hold out a tasting research to verify if the construction was in poor situation. Since then, no progress has been made, as a result of the middle is with out a supervisor, in line with administration sources.

“It is unacceptable. As an official, as a citizen and as a worker at a research center in this country, this situation seems denounceable to me,” cries Albentosa, who has been working as an oceanographer since the 1990s. She currently leads the captive breeding project for the Sea oyster. Minor, with which it hopes to remedy the high nutrient pollution suffered by the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe.

In April 2021, the Government of Pedro Sánchez decided that the CSIC would absorb the IEO and two other public research organizations, because they were on the verge of collapse. At the oceanographic institute, the Government's main advisory body for the study of marine pollution and the state of fisheries, research ships could not leave port and scientists had to return hundreds of thousands of euros in research projects for the administrative collapse. Three years later, integration into the CSIC has solved some of the problems, such as the slowness in hiring researchers, but not others, such as the state of abandonment in some of the nine existing oceanographic centers.

A few weeks ago, the Court of Auditors published a report on the absorption of the IEO and the National Institute of Agricultural and Food Research and Technology that was resounding. It said that the integration into the CSIC—unilaterally designed by the Ministry of Science, headed by former astronaut Pedro Duque at the time—was done without a prior plan, without considering other options and without having established a follow-up strategy. The supervisory body warned of a hole of 12 million euros in the accounts, a sum that was expected to be saved with the integration and of which it found no trace. The integration has not been completed, the organization says.

View of the east façade of the IEO oceanographic center in Murcia with the boat punctured and the cornices affected on the top floor.
View of the east façade of the IEO oceanographic center in Murcia with the boat punctured and the cornices affected on the top floor.M. a.

Albentosa and Ruiz explain that in recent years the number of researchers at their center has doubled. They earn more and more money for research and projects, but the structural deficiencies of the center cannot be repaired with these funds.

In 2013, an architectural firm carried out a remodeling project for the San Pedro del Pinatar building. The report, to which this newspaper has had access, described rotten or propped wooden windows, crumbling concrete floors, stains, cracks, rust. The project contemplated a thorough renovation that would turn the building into a modern research center with an attractive exterior cover that would make it more energy efficient. The cost was about five and a half million euros to be carried out in three phases. It was never carried out and, 11 years later, the same problems are still there.

Graphic representation of the architectural project to improve the oceanographic center of Murcia in 2013.
Graphic representation of the architectural project to improve the oceanographic center of Murcia in 2013.

“We have been protesting for a long time about the state of the external façade, which also gives the building a horrible appearance; It makes our neighbors and ourselves uncomfortable,” Ruiz confesses. The researcher has been studying the worrying deterioration of the Mar Menor for years and directs the main monitoring project of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, endowed with about five million euros.

The oceanographic center is located in one of the most touristic spots in San Pedro del Pinatar, right next to a nautical center and a restaurant with spectacular views of the lagoon. A few days ago, after visiting the research center, the mayor of the town, Ángela Gaona (PP), promoted a motion to ask the State to fix the property. It was approved unanimously by the councilors of PP, Vox, PSOE and the Independent Group of the town.

The scenario in different oceanographic facilities will not be higher. In the Balearic Islands, the primary drawback is location: researchers can not slot in an outdated middle that has not been expanded or modernized, which has pressured them to improvise a marine micro organism cultivation laboratory within the reception. Another urgent situation, explains Rosa Balbín, a researcher on the Balearic middle, is that there isn’t a administrative workers. The scientist spent all of final 12 months doing these features, and now she regrets it. “It took a week to do what a good manager would do in much less time. Thinking that science is only done by scientists is nineteenth-century. It is a team effort in which technicians and managers participate with equal importance. I was wrong, because it made the problem invisible. “In this center we are doomed to closure due to collapse and the only thing I managed to do is prolong the agony for another year,” says this physicist converted into an oceanographer who studies the masses of deep water of high salinity in the Mediterranean and its impact on fisheries and the global climate.

At the Balearic Oceanographic Center (IEO-CSIC) they have improvised a bacteria analysis laboratory in the reception due to lack of space.
At the Balearic Oceanographic Center (IEO-CSIC) they have improvised a bacteria analysis laboratory in the reception due to lack of space.R. B.

Juan Bellas, head of marine pollution at the IEO and researcher at the Vigo center, believes that the current situation cannot be attributed to integration. The oceanographic institute was founded in 1914 and its problems date back years or decades, he recalls. “In Vigo,” explains Bellas, “there was a cultivation plant that is currently closed and must be demolished due to lack of maintenance and neglect.” Dismantling is scheduled for 2025 after which the constructing should be rebuilt, with the “logical” impression that this has on the investigation, he provides.

The political scientist Eloísa del Pino became president of the CSIC a year after the annexation of the IEO, and found everything to do. The second woman to preside over this body since its creation in 1939, she is quick to explain that the situation is much better today. She recognizes the structural problems suffered by oceanographic centers, but sends a message of tranquility. The CSIC is going to dedicate 37 million euros to fix the buildings of the organizations that she took over in 2021, she says. Of these, 23 million euros will be for the IEO. Most of them will go to Vigo and the Balearic Islands. The center of San Pedro del Pinatar will take “at least two million euros,” she says. “Most coastal centers have a very difficult situation and have had zero maintenance in the last 10 years or more. “We are projecting improvements in all but one,” she says.

Del Pino also announces that the CSIC has incorporated 200 new managers and plans to increase by another 200. The challenge of unification is to integrate some 2,000 people into an institution where there were already another 13,000 with activities “partly related, but additionally very completely different.” ”, he highlights. The task will take “years,” he warns.

Albentosa recognizes a mistake that still haunts him. In June 2022, the Minister of Science, Diana Morant, traveled to San Pedro del Pinatar to learn about the IEO's scientific projects. Instead of receiving her with complaints about the situation of the building, Albentosa was in charge of purchasing a plastic sheet and a blue carpet to clean up the environment and cover the decomposed concrete on the floor. “I had been looking for funding for the oyster project for years and for the first time we had it, and we had managed to raise it in captivity. At that moment I just wanted to talk about science. I was embarrassed that he saw the center like that. When he came, with the place full of journalists and cameras, he obviously only saw what we wanted to show him,” recalls Albentosa.

The researcher is now even angrier after Morant's announcement last October that a new oceanographic center will be built for 16 million euros in Gandia, the minister's hometown and where she was mayor. “She announces a new center in her town and while we continue to suffer neglect for decades,” she laments. Minister Morant declined to comment on the new center through a spokesperson.

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