National Response Center Website Down – 6 Days and Counting? [Updated]

UPDATE – Coast Guard’s Response to our Inquiry on Feb. 26: The NRC website was taken down on February 21st. During the restoration process, the NRC was required to comply with new DOD/DHS cyber security requirements. The NRC will bring a new website online to meet these requirements, though it is an arduous process and taking longer than originally anticipated. The website will be brought back online in a stepped fashion beginning with publishing static pages within the next two weeks. The NRC report query tool and web reporting tool will not be immediately available, though we hope to have full website functionality no later than the end of May. In the meantime, we are looking at other intra-governmental websites that may be able to host our FOIA data until our main site is finished.”

This process has not impacted the NRC’s ability to take and disseminate reports to first responders via it our 800-424-8802 hotline.”

[Original Post] Savvy SkyTruth Alerts users may have noticed that we haven’t published any new oil or hazmat spill reports from the Coast Guard-operated National Response Center (NRC) since February 20.  If you go directly to the NRC website, you see a “down for maintenance” message.  Polluters and concerned citizens can still submit reports to the NRC by phone, at 1-800-424-8802.  But without the website, we can’t search for or download pollution reports.  And that leaves a big hole in our SkyTruth Alerts map, and in the daily updates we email to Alerts subscribers.

It’s also really bad timing, given the major oil spill that happened on the lower Mississippi River due to a barge accident on Saturday afternoon.

We emailed an NRC spokesperson yesterday morning and asked when and why the site went down, and when the Coast Guard expects it to be operational again, but so far we haven’t gotten a response.  If anyone has info to share, please post it as a comment to this blog.

Possible Bilge Dumping, Offshore Brazil

We’ve been looking at satellite imagery of offshore Brazil regularly since Chevron’s November 2011 blowout and spill in the Campos Basin.  Yesterday Teri noticed what appears to be a 40-mile-long, thin slick about 50 miles offshore in the southern part of the Campos oil field, playing hide-and-seek between the clouds and cloud shadows, on a MODIS/Terra satellite image:

Detail from MODIS/Terra satellite image taken on February 25, 2014, showing apparent bilge-dumping slick from a vessel operating in or passing through the Campos Basin oil field, offshore Brazil. Oil platforms and FPSOs shown as purple dots. Image courtesy of NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team. 

Given the location, one might suspect this is a leak from one of the many oil platforms or FPSOs in this area, shown as purple dots in the image above.  Petrobras platform Namorado-2 is located close to the north end of this slick. But we think, given it’s length and consistent width, this is more likely a bilge-dumping slick or leak from a passing vessel than a leak from a platform.

Is bilge dumping legal in Brazilian waters?  And who is the culprit? There is plenty of coastal shipping activity in this area, including cargo ships that we’ve caught dumping bilge elsewhere. There is also a lot of tanker traffic here, hauling oil from the FPSOs offshore to storage facilities and refineries onshore, occasionally causing spills here in Brazilian waters.

If we had to place a bet, we would guess this is bilge dumping from a shuttle tanker serving the Campos Basin oil facilities. Teri is running through the AIS data now to see if she can identify the source of this slick.

Olympic Park, Sochi

Here’s a “before-and-after” view of the Olympic Park showing some of the transformation that has occurred in the vicinity of Sochi to accommodate the ongoing Winter Olympics:

Future site of Olympic Park near Sochi – 2007
Olympic Park – November 2013

Anyone else tired of figure skating and snowboarding yet?