As Isaac steadily weakens and moves off to the north, the clouds are starting to part over the Gulf of Mexico and workers are making their way back to the offshore platforms that had been evacuated. Reports of actual and potential oil spills in the Gulf are coming in to the National Response Center, and can be seen on our SkyTruth Alerts map. Several have caught our eye, including a report from Chevron that one of their wells was improperly shut-in when they evacuated Platform B in High Island Block 563.
The slick from this leaking well appears on yesterday’s MODIS/Aqua visible satellite image. It’s a very small slick, so this doesn’t look particularly serious yet. We hope they can get the problem fixed soon.
MODIS/Aqua visible satellite image of northern Gulf of Mexico taken August 30, 2012. Site of reported leak from Chevron platform is marked.
Detail from above showing apparent slick emanating from location of Platform B, consistent with NRC report.
There’s some serious speculation that old oil from the 2010 BP / Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf could get churned up from the seafloor, and exposed by erosion of beaches and marshes, as a result of Hurricane Isaac’s wind and wave action. And as we’ve seen in past storms, new leaks and spills can occur from storm-pummeled platforms, pipelines, storage tanks and other facilities.
If you do see what you think could be a leak or spill of oil or hazardous materials, please report it to the National Response Center. This is the nation’s official front-line agency for collecting and distributing information about pollution incidents. You can report via their website or by calling their toll-free hotline, 1-800-424-8802. If your report to the NRC includes a good description of the location of your sighting (we love latitude/longitude coordinates, but the nearest street address is also useful) then we’ll be able to grab it from the NRC and put it on our SkyTruth Alerts map, so everyone can see your report.
If you think you’ve observed oil pollution, you can also submit a report on the Gulf Oil Spill Tracker site for all to see. Including some photos with your Spill Tracker report is a great way to document possible new spills or the re-deposition of old BP oil, and helps validate your report.
But above all, be safe. Please don’t go out chasing oil spills in hazardous conditions. Plenty of time for that after Isaac has moved on and the danger has passed.
This MODIS / Terra color satellite image of the Gulf was taken at 16:30 hours UTC (1:30 pm Central time). Isaac is now a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 75 mph, moving steadily toward the northwest at 10 mph. It’s expected to make landfall along the Louisiana coast tonight. Right now it’s passing through the offshore oil fields, throwing a right hook at the platforms and pipelines on the east side of the Delta from Breton Sound to Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay. That northeast quadrant of the storm is where the strongest winds and biggest waves usually occur. Data buoys in that area are now reporting 18 foot waves and surfacewind speeds of 60 knots (69 mph):
MODIS / Terra satellite image taken at 1:30 pm Central time on August 28, 2012. Hurricane Isaac, looking more organized and "wound up" than in previous images, should make landfall tonight.
Same image with oil and gas platforms and pipelines shown in orange.