Oil Spill Tracker Goes into Retirement

The Gulf Oil Spill Tracker is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

SkyTruth created the Gulf Oil Spill Tracker in 2010, with support from Surfrider Foundation and Ocean Conservancy. It was launched to help Gulf-area residents fill the information vacuum — and correct some of the misinformation — spawned by the  BP-controlled spill response process during the BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Interested citizens and organizations tracking the impact of the spill on the Gulf coastline could submit oil pollution reports with text and images, and include links to news articles and video. Our Oil Spill Tracker tool (built on a crowd-sharing platform called Ushahidi) displayed the reports on an interactive map where anyone could view them, and sent out alerts to people who had signed up to be notified about them. Over 400 citizen reports were uploaded during and in the aftermath of the spill.  Users included concerned citizens around the world, government officials and staff from the local to national level, and members of the media.

One of our diligent users, Susan Forsyth, told us the citizen-submitted reports of continued oil spill impacts on the beaches of Florida played an important role in keeping BP and the US Coast Guard from prematurely declaring victory and suspending their cleanup operations there. Florida state officials were thankful for that.

A reporting mechanism specifically for the BP / Deepwater Horizon spill is no longer needed so we finally decided to retire Gulf Oil Spill Tracker as of April 24, 2017. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade  tracks pollution in the Gulf region with their iWitness Pollution Map, a similar tool that SkyTruth helped them launch, so head over to their site if you want to continue submitting or receiving reports.  And of course we continue to operate SkyTruth Alerts, which publishes official reports of oil and hazardous materials spills nationwide that are collected by the National Response Center.