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Port Aransas

Oil Spill Off Port Aransas, Texas

Around 4:30 am on October 20, a barge filled with nearly 5-½ million gallons of crude oil exploded off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas. Two crewmen lost their lives, and although the cargo holds reportedly were not breached, the crippled vessel began leaking oil into the Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard reported a spill roughly two miles long and a quarter mile wide, and response crews were seen setting up oil booms by late afternoon. By the end of the weekend, more than 6,000 feet of containment booms had been placed to protect essential habitat areas along Mustang and North Padre islands.

Port Aransas Spill

Satellite imagery from Planet shows the spill at a resolution of three meters, just two days after the explosion. The spill spread out off Port Aransas and started drifting slowly south toward Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore – critical wintering habitat for migratory birds including the red knot and the piping plover, both listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Coast Guard issued a news release late on October 25 indicating the barge had been moved to shore. Beach cleanup teams continued to work on Mustang and North Padre islands, where more than 70 cubic yards of “oily solids” have been removed. Some shorebirds have been seen with oil on them, but wildlife teams have had difficulty catching and cleaning any of them. If oiled wildlife is rescued, they’re likely to go to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) for treatment.

Harvey Spill Tracker

New Citizen Pollution Reporting Tool, Now Available for Hurricanes

We’ve launched the SkyTruth Spill Tracker, a map-based tool to allow citizens on the ground in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean to quickly report oil and hazardous waste spills and other pollution incidents as a result of the storms.  

You can access the Tracker via mobile or desktop browsers at SkyTruthSpillTracker.org, or via the Ushahidi mobile app

Pollution Spill Tracker

Submit your report at SkyTruthSpillTracker.org

We operated a similar tool, the Gulf Oil Spill Tracker, during and after the BP oil spill in the Gulf in 2010.  We also helped the Louisiana Bucket Brigade launch their iWitness Pollution Map. If you’re reporting pollution in Louisiana, you might prefer to use the iWitness map.

How to Submit a Report

Click the + symbol in the upper left corner of the map to report oil, chemical or hazardous waste spills. Follow the prompts to enter a brief description of what you see. If you are able, please upload a photo or video showing the incident and hit submit.

A technology-driven non-profit with a mission to protect the environment by making more of it visible, SkyTruth launched this reporting tool to enable citizens to report environmental pollution as a result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Read more about related work after the BP oil spill, the Taylor Energy oil spill, and Hurricane Katrina.

We believe if people can easily communicate their needs, organizations and governments can more effectively respond. Federal and state authorities will be able to download the reports in a standard *.csv format, readable by any spreadsheet or database software.

Contact Us

With your help, the SkyTruthSpillTracker should prove to be a useful resource for aiding the response and recovery efforts throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. We encourage everyone impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to use the tracker. We are also interested in coordinating with other groups organizing similar pollution reporting efforts on the ground. Please email suggestions to us at info@skytruth.org.

 

 

Meanwhile, Fires Rage in Texas

Texas is being hit hard by a one-two punch of severe drought and wildfire (here’s an interactive map of the  fires).  The same MODIS image that showed the beauty of the Mississippi Delta yesterday also starkly reveals the plumes of smoke from those Texas fires, drifting across nuch of the eastern and southern parts of the state. They sure could have used some of that rain from Tropical Storm Lee.

MODIS/Aqua satellite image taken September 6, 2011, showing pale gray plumes from wildfires in Texas and smoggy pall of drifting smoke across the southern part of the state.

Shell Reports Drilling Mud Spill in Gulf of Mexico

Shell International reported an accidental spill of nearly 5,000 gallons of drilling mud into the Gulf of Mexico on July 31.  This is way out there in a cluster of deepwater fields known as the Perdido project, in water more than 7,800′ deep about 150 miles off the Texas coast (195 workers were evacuated from the project last week when tropical storm Don rumbled through):

Map showing location of drilling mud spill reported by Shell on July 31, 2011

Perdido is an awesome development project. Production from several separate fields in the region will be tied into a single, massive floating spar. Be sure to check out the jaw-dropping promotional video.

Schematic diagram of Perdido spar and subsea tie-ins with wells in surrounding fields.

And yes, “perdido” is indeed Spanish for “lost.”  AtlantisMacondo? Maybe it’s not wise to tempt fate…

Keep up with all the latest pollution incidents at the SkyTruth Alerts page.

Fire at Natural Gas Facility in Texas – Visible From Space

Fire at Enterprise Products facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas, February 8, 2011. Photo credit: Reuters / Richard Carson.

There’s been an explosion and fire at a natural gas storage and processing facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas, about 35 miles east of Houston. No injuries have been reported [UPDATE 2/10/11 9:30ET – one worker confirmed dead] but a massive fire and series of blasts have rocked the area. The cause is apparently a failure of “one or more” pipelines that deliver natural gas liquids to the processing plant.

This MODIS / Aqua satellite image taken shortly after yesterday afternoon’s explosion shows the fire as a bright orange spot, with a plume of brown smoke apparently trailing away to the north:

Fire visible as orange spot on this low-resolution NASA/MODIS satellite image taken shortly after the explosion.