Today, SkyTruth, SouthWings, and Waterkeeper Alliance launch the Gulf Monitoring Consortium: an innovative partnership that is systematically monitoring oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico with satellite images and mapping, aerial reconnaissance and photography, and on-the-water observation and sampling. This unique effort led by three non-profit organizations will collect and publish images, observations and sampling data of the Gulf of Mexico to rapidly respond to reported and suspected oil pollution incidents.
At SkyTruth we’re always looking for ways to get reliable and timely ground truth information to accompany our satellite images; it helps the images tell a fuller story. Working with SouthWings, we can get pilots and observers up in the air to investigate spill reports and corroborate indications of pollution on satellite imagery. Waterkeeper can mobilize folks on the coast and the water, in coordination with satellite overpasses and aerial overflights, to get up-close documentation and samples of suspected pollution.
This newly formed alliance will actively bear witness to current, ongoing, and future oil pollution to fill the information gap exposed since the tragic BP / Deepwater Horizon explosion one year ago. During the BP spill SkyTruth, SouthWings and the Waterkeeper Alliance detected and documented an unrelated, chronic leak from a platform destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. And you probably recall that for several days following the oil spill that came ashore March 20 in Grand Isle, Louisiana, government officials provided little information to the public on the source or severity of the pollution. Concerned citizens, NGOs and the media scrambled to figure out what was happening, and requested help from our organizations. And the more we look into it, the more we find that official government pollution reports, in many cases submitted by the polluters themselves, are internally inconsistent and don’t match what we observe on satellite images.
Damaging rumors and speculation take hold in the absence of good information, leading people in Gulf communities still reeling from the BP disaster to fear the worst whenever oil comes ashore: another major offshore spill. That’s why we’ve formed this alliance with SouthWings and Waterkeeper, to systematically and efficiently evaluate reported or suspected pollution incidents in a coordinated approach from space, from the air, and on the water, so we can fill this critical information gap.
The Gulf Monitoring Consortium is a rapid response alliance that collects, analyzes and publishes images and other information by space, air and water in order to investigate and expose oil pollution incidents that occur in the Gulf of Mexico. We’re actively seeking partner organizations to join us in this effort.