Could some underwater concrete pipes be transformed into a reef inhabited by over 500 animal species? The answer is yes: thanks to Endesa’s initiative, together with the town councils of Sant Adrià de Besòs and Badalona and the Consortium of Besòs, the remains of the old wharf form the Sant Adrià de Besòs thermal power station are being used as artificial reefs, favouring the development of marine fauna. The main aim of this project is to ensure the preservation of marine ecosystems.
Origin of the project
Our old Thermal Power Station of Sant Adrià de Besòs has been closed since 2011. It was built in 1912 and its underwater concrete pipes, built to capture cooling water for the station, continued to be used until 1953, when new structures were built, but they old ones were never removed.
It was not until a short while back that this area was given the importance it deserves. It all began during the environmental surveillance process for the works to destroy the station's old wharfs: the technicians noticed that the older underwater concrete structures had produced a large amount of restored ocean floor and they were inhabited by a large variety of species.
It was at this point that those in charge of the operation reflected upon the need to protect this area. This led to the idea of creating a biotope-park of artificial reefs that would enable the area to be preserved and favour the development of the marine ecosystem. And this is how the Town Councils of Badalona, Sant Adrià de Besòs, the Consortium of Besòs and Endesa signed an agreement focusing on using the area of the old power station’s deteriorated wharf.
Furthermore, as a large number of Audouin seagulls and European shag were identified in the area, we decided to keep the concrete block that formed the head section of the refrigeration pipes from the old station, to serve as an island for sea birds.
At Endesa we have financed the technical project from the start, which was drawn up specially for this purpose and we have made sure the aquatic structures were adapted in order to guarantee the safety of divers and swimmers in the area. We will also collaborate financially in terms of the surveillance and control activities for the park.
In turn, the Consortium, made up of the town councils of Badalona, Barcelona, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Montcada I Reixac, includes the creation of these reefs within the processes of "Restoring the coastline of the main affected areas of Santa Adrià de Besòs and Badalona” and it will apply for the relevant government concession for the maritime-terrestrial public domain that will form the future of the artificial reef marine park.
The colonizing marine species
There are numerous embedded species found in this area, including brown and calcareous algae and more than 500 related animal species, such as sponges, hydrozoa, bryozoans, polychaetes, anthozoans, crustaceans and colonies of tunicates.
In addition, there is mobile fauna, such as starfish, urchins, sea spiders and a wide variety of crustaceans, molluscs, octopuses and cuttlefish.
As for fish, here are some of the examples that have been found: scorpion fish, east Atlantic peacock wrasse, damselfish, Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, Montagu's blenny, nudibranch, sea bream, painted comber, wide-eyed flounder and bream.