Timor Sea Drilling Spill – Closing In On Marine Reserve

MODIS Terra and Aqua images from September 17 have a nearly ideal sunglint pattern to reveal the oil slicks and sheen resulting from the ongoing blowout and spill from the Montara platform in the Timor Sea off Western Australia. The well has been uncontrolled now for 4 weeks.

NASA / MODIS satellite image, September 17, 2009, with SkyTruth analysis.

Patchy, discontinuous slicks and sheen, separated by patches of open water, occur across an area of 7,530 square miles (=5,680 square nautical miles). To the east, the slicks merge with areas of low wind and the edge of the sunglint region. To the west, slicks in the immediate vicinity of the platform itself are very plainly visible, and have approached within 14.5 miles (=12.5 nautical miles) of the Cartier Island Marine Reserve. Hopefully the wind, current, and ongoing response efforts will keep the oil away from that biologically rich area.

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