Extreme Bilge Dumping, Angola

UPDATE: We figured out who the culprit was! Read all about how we identified the guilty party- FROM SPACE:


Original Story: We’ve been collecting quite a number of images showing the ongoing problem of bilge dumping across the globe and here is one that really catches the eye. This image, courtesy of the European Space Agency, was captured off the coast of Angola on April 6. It shows what appears to be an oily bilge dump approximately 92 miles long. The bottom image shows that you can clearly see the vessel that is probably responsible, circled in red:

 Radar satellite image showing a 92 mile long bilge-dump slick, taken on April 6, 2012. Envisat ASAR image courtesy European Space Agency.

 
You can be sure that we look at images such as this everyday and when we see ’em, you’ll see ’em. Eyes everywhere.

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!