Bilge Dumping off Vietnam – February 22, 2012

We’ve posted about bilge dumping before – the practice of flushing the oily slop out of your vessel, straight into the ocean.  It’s illegal in a lot of places, but it is very hard to enforce.  SkyTruth’s daily offshore monitoring program just caught this fine (awful?) example of bilge dumping off the coast of Vietnam, in a major north-south shipping lane about 115 miles offshore:

Envisat ASAR satellite radar image off Vietnam, February 22, 2012. Image courtesy European Space Agency.

Zooming in on those black streaks, and turning the image west-up, here’s a closer look at this mess:

Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

More images and analysis after the jump….

The slick at bottom left is 30 miles long. Assuming the oil is only one micron thick – that’s probably way too conservative – we calculate this slick holds at least 16,600 gallons of oily gunk:

Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

Busted!  Sort of.  Following the visible stern wake, we come to a vessel 30 miles away, the likely perpetrator for this particular slick:

Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

If anybody has access to AIS (automated identification system) data, they can probably ID this vessel for us.  It’s location is  12.820307° N / 111.724137° E, heading 33°, time 02:37:19 UTC on February 22, 2012.  Go get ’em!

2 replies
  1. monte merrick says:

    nice work! hope someone gets em. this is a problem off the east and west coasts of Canada too (probably the arctic coast as well, as soon as its done melting…) i've heard as many as 300,000 seabirds each year die due bilge dumping in Canadian waters, suspected to be done primarily by ships headed for Seattle and New York, where they have to pay $$$ to have bilges cleaned. Obvious solution is better enforcement at sea… more obvious solution is stop burning bunker fuel moving plastic crap and soy products back and forth across the oceans…

  2. John Amos says:

    Thanks Monte – we'll take a look at Canada. Had assumed bilge dumping wasn't a big problem there anymore. Several years ago Canada used radar satellite imagery to bust a vessel that dumped bilge off Newfoundland, I think.

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