Gulf Monitoring Consortium Update Report

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On April 19, 2011, SkyTruth, SouthWings, and Waterkeeper Alliance launched 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.

On April 19, 2011, SkyTruth, SouthWings, and Waterkeeper Alliance launched 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.

Gulf Monitoring Consortium Update ReportClick for the full report

The BP oil disaster highlighted the flawed process by which oil discharges are reported and cleaned up, and through which polluters are held responsible. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium uses the tools and expertise of each member to investigate and publicize new and chronic oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. During the first days of the BP oil disaster, SkyTruth accurately calculated that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf was at least 20 times greater than the official BP and Coast Guard estimate, and their continual analysis of satellite imagery uncovered a chronic leak which was unrelated to the BP spill and had been polluting the Gulf since 2004. SouthWings provided a bird’s eye view of the clean up effort as it was developing, allowing community leaders to share information with their neighbors and political officials. Waterkeeper Alliance member organizations along the Gulf Coast collected aquatic organisms, sediment, and water samples. These efforts proved valuable to both communities and local, state, and federal government officials who needed detailed information.

In the wake of the BP oil disaster we discovered the official processes of reporting and cleaning up oil pollution rely, to an inordinate degree, on the polluters themselves. Little information is made available to the public, and the information that is presented could be considered untrustworthy. Gulf Coast communities, and coastal communities throughout the U.S., deserve timely, accurate and reliable information regarding pollution incidents large and small.

The Gulf Monitoring Consortium’s long-term goal is to ensure that industry and government pollution reports are accurate, credible and understandable, so that the true state of oil pollution related to energy development is widely acknowledged and incorporated into public policy and decision- making. The Consortium regularly evaluates, investigates and publicizes pollution incidents in the Gulf of Mexico related to oil and gas exploration, production and transportation. We believe these actions shine a light on the environmental degradation caused by oil industry practices and allowed by deficiencies in government oversight.

This Gulf Monitoring Consortium Update Report provides an assessment of several oil pollution incidents documented and analyzed by the members of the Gulf Monitoring Consortium between April and October 2011. The long-term goal of releasing bi-annual reports on the Consortium’s documentation and analysis of oil pollution incidents is to promote more accurate and transparent reporting and oversight of offshore oil pollution.

Summaries of these investigations are located in separate fact sheets in the full report. Each fact sheet includes the location and discovery date of each incident, a summary of Gulf Monitoring Consortium activity, known governmental and industry attempts to report and clean up all oil pollution, and efforts to hold the responsible party accountable for the pollution.

Gulf Monitoring Consortium Update ReportClick for the full report

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