The Beacon

Oceana Unveils New Oil Spill Map

Have you ever wondered just how common oil spills are? Prepare to have your socks knocked off.

Oceana and SkyTruth have partnered to launch a new online oil spill tracking tool, which maps oil spill reports from the National Response Center. Considering there are a couple dozen reports from just the past week, you may find this new map disheartening – but that isn’t the worst of it. Many of the reports come from the oil industry itself, as well as the public and the government, so the map may actually underestimate the number and size of spills.

Clicking on any incident offers details about the spill. Although many reports are of unknown sheens in the water, the effects of incidents like these add up quickly as the oceans deal with this sort of pollution. By drawing attention to even minor spills, this map highlights the repetitive damage done to our environment by offshore drilling and other oil pollution.

Moreover, some of the incidents marked on this map may be still more serious. For example, a spill near a rig operated by Transocean off the coast of Brazil, reported on Thursday, is currently being attributed by Chevron to “oil seeps.” This spill may contain as much as 628,000 gallons of oil.

“This new Web tool will help people visualize the magnitude of the oil industry’s damage to our natural environment and our economy,” said Oceana senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz.

“These spills are often swept under the rug, but the public and policymakers have a right to know how much damage is being done to our oceans. Our work with SkyTruth will help to make that possible,” added Savitz.

“We built SkyTruth Alerts in the wake of the BP disaster, so we could keep track of spills that happen in the Gulf every day. Now we have made it available on the Web so anyone can know about these incidents as soon as we do,” said John Amos, founder and president of SkyTruth. “We’re thrilled to be working with Oceana, one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, to share this tool with everyone who cares about our oceans.”


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