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Oil Spill from Container Ship Rena Off Coast of New Zealand

37.6S 176.1E

October 17th, 2011 Category: Environmental Disasters

New Zealand - October 15th, 2011

Salvage teams are pumping oil from a stricken container ship off the New Zealand coast before bad weather arrives which could split the vessel in two and spew more oil onto beaches.

The Liberian-flagged Rena has been stuck for 12 days on a reef 14 miles (22km) off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, having already spilled about 350 tonnes of toxic fuel and some of its hundreds of containers into the sea.

The image shows the container ship Rena off the coast of North Island. The information present in the image (see full version) regarding the ship is generated automatically by SRRS’ ship-detection post processing module.

The circle indicates the area in which the oil has spread. In the full image, some black stains can be observed near the shoreline. Oil has washed up along about 37 miles of the coast, which is popular with surfers and fishermen. Nearly 1,300 birds have died in the spill, which is seen as New Zealand’s worst environmental disaster in decades.

The Guardian has reported that salvage teams are running out of time in their efforts to pump oil from the stricken Rena container ship before it breaks up or bad weather halts the operation. Today they were adding extra pumps to speed up the recovery of the oil from the 236m (775ft) vessel through holes in the side to a barge. More than 70 tonnes have been recovered, but there are fears that bad weather will halt the operation and possibly send the stern section, which contains more than 1,000 tonnes of oil, tumbling into 60 metres of water.

Mississippi River Delta and Gulf of Mexico Waters by Oil Spill – July 12th, 2010

29.1N 89.2W

July 12th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day, Rivers

USA - June 24th, 2010

USA - June 24th, 2010

This image shows the Mississippi River Delta and the water around the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Sediments spilling from the delta tinge some of the water a greenish color. Other dark black areas may be oil, although the precise location of the oil slick is best observed in other images taken by radar or with sun glinting off the surface: click here.

BP and now estimates that they have spent in excess of $3 billion attempting cap off the leaking well and in attempts to clean up the devastation caused by the oil slick.

According to the company the use a giant tanker which has been specially adapted in order to skim off huge quantities of crude from the surface of the ocean has proved to be inconclusive. This is the world’s largest vessel designed for the skimming task, can supposedly picked up in excess of 20,000,000 gallons of oil stained water each day.

However, the appalling weather caused by the passing hurricane hampered the operation making it only partially effective. Other skimming and barrage operations were out of service for a week due to the weather and choppy seas that Hurricane Alex (01L) produced.

More areas have been closed to fishing according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has expanded the area to cover a new north-westerly boundary off the coast of the State of Louisiana. This brings the total no-fishing zone to around 81,000 mi.² or third of all the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Alex (01L) South of Oil Spill – July 2nd, 2010

23.7N 94W

July 2nd, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day, Tropical Cyclones

Hurricane Alex (01L) - June 26th, 2010

Hurricane Alex (01L) - June 26th, 2010

Alex - Enhanced image

Alex - Enhanced image

Alex South of Oil Spill

Alex South of Oil Spill

Close-up of Oil Spill

Close-up of Oil Spill

The main image shows Alex (01L) on June 26th, when it was starting to become better organized and increase to hurricane strength over the Caribbean Sea. At that time, the system was reported to have winds of 65 mph (100 km/h).

One detail image shows the system in the lower reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, where it was feared that it would cause greater environmental damage by passing through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill area, best observed in the close-up. Fortunately, the system has stayed relatively clear of the site, although its approach did cause BP to delay plans to increase oil capture from the leak by a week. Tarballs from the spill as large as apples washed onshore around Grand Isle, as well as other parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, from high storm tides created by the hurricane.

The system has now made landfall over Mexico and is weakening. Its remnants, visible in the animated imagery, are moving toward the west near 12 mph (19 km/hr), with maximum sustained winds near 30 mph (45 km/hr), with higher gusts. Estimated minimum central pressure is 1000 mb (29.53 inches).

Track of Hurricane 01L - July 1st, 2010 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of Hurricane 01L

The remnants of Alex are expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across portions of northern and central Mexico. Isolated storm-total amounts of 20 inches are possible over the higher elevations of northeastern Mexico. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in mountainous terrain.

The remnants of Alex are also expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches over portions of southern Texas, with isolated maximum storm-total amounts of around 12 inches. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods.

Oil Spill Continues to Spread in Gulf Mexico

29.3N 89.2W

May 31st, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 28th, 2010

Gulf of Mexico, USA - May 28th, 2010

Anger and despair intensified across the Gulf Coast on Sunday as BP — after the failure of the “top kill” — planned to attempt yet another short-term fix to contain the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and fouling Louisiana wetlands, one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

Sunday afternoon, the White House press office announced that the latest plan — to cut off the broken riser pipe at the top of the well and to cap the new opening — could temporarily increase the oil flow by 20 percent. The belief that the increase will be temporary hinges on BP successfully attaching the cap to the top of the well’s failed blowout preventer.

The White House’s statement paints a picture that is slightly worse than what BP Managing Director Robert Dudley described on the morning talk shows. Dudley said that his company has been very careful not to do anything that would make the situation worse.

“There may be a small increase,” Dudley told CNN. “But we should not expect to see a large increase, if any, by cutting this off and making a clean surface for us to be able to put a containment vessel over it.”

To many, news of another attempted solution only reinforced the sentiment that BP has no plan to deal quickly with the out-of-control well, while the long-term solution of drilling relief wells continues.

So far, the company unsuccessfully has tried to seal the broken blowout preventer, put a containment box over a different leak and built a smaller containment device called a top hat, but decided not to use it. Last week BP tried sealing the well with drilling mud, a move known as a top kill; sealing it with a shot of junk rubber, dubbed a junk shot; and combining the two by sealing it with drilling mud and pieces of junk rubber.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Reaches Louisiana Coast‎ – April 30th, 2010

29.0N 88.9W

April 30th, 2010 Category: Environmental Disasters, Image of the day

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico - April 29th, 2010

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico - April 29th, 2010

Oil Spill Detail (Radar Image)

Oil Spill Detail (Radar Image)

The massive oil spill pouring from a ruptured oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the coast of Louisiana, threatening an environmental catastrophe in the region.

The first fingers of oily sheen reached the mouth of the Mississippi River on Thursday evening local time, 24 hours ahead of previous estimates by the US Coast Guard.

Oil is escaping from the well at a rate of about 5,000 barrels a day, five times faster than previously estimated. At that rate, the volume of the leak will exceed Alaska’s 1989 Exxon Valdez accident by the third week of June, making it the worst U.S. oil spill.

As the sun began to set over the fragile wetlands surrounding the Mississippi, the oil was slipping into the South Pass of the river and already lapping at the shoreline in long black lines.

Although US government agencies and BP set up 100,000 feet of booms to protect coastal areas from the slick, rough seas sent five foot waves of oily water over the top of the booms into the river.

The oil slick is on its way to becoming America’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife in one of the world’s richest marine environments.

Even before the spill neared the coast, wildlife experts said a toxic mix of chemicals was poisoning the waters of endangered marine life and fisheries, including one of only two breeding grounds world-wide for Atlantic blue-fin tuna.

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