Oil tankers continue to be a potential threat to the environment as two recent incidents off the coast of Sri Lanka confirm. Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority launched an investigation to ascertain if the marine environment at Little Basses Reef was damaged after a bulk carrier, the MV Eurosun ran aground on 23rd January 2021. “Fire breaks out on Panama-flagged New Diamond oil tanker” 04th Sept 2020

Both tankers were transporting a Substantial quantity of bunker (720 MT). After preliminary investigations the Sri Lanka Navy assures us that: “No trace of any oil spill had been detected” “All’s well that ends well!” But, do these potentially devastating tragedies really end well? Do governments deliberately mislead us by covering up the true facts? Debatable

“Cova Contro” is a non-governmental organization (NGO), devoted to action research, development, education and training in remote sensing and spatial information sciences, their integration and applications contribute to the well-being of humanity and the sustainability of the environment. “Cova Contro” is focused on environmental issues mostly in Italy, including investigating quite prominently the impacts of hydrocarbons extraction. Using satellite based imagery (courtesy of Sentinel-1 ESA), allows us to effectively map oil pollution on a grand scale. The resulting data is made available and free of change to scientific and commercial users and of course the general public:

(NRT) data delivered within 1 hr;

(NRT) Priority areas within 3 hrs;

Systematically archived data within 24 hrs. Using software SNAP version 8 and the Ground Range Detection (GRD) Sentinel-1 images, a more accurate account of detectable oil spills became more apparent as can be noted in the underlying images.

Before (S1A_IW_SLC__1SDV_20210122T001704_20210122T001739_036243_044052_2746.SAFE)
After (S1A_IW_SLC__1SDV_20210127 T124911_20210127T124941_036324_04431A_05FA.SAFE)

The analysis of the Sentinel-1 image of January 22nd, (the day before MV EUROSUN ran aground) clearly shows traces of oil pollution probably from some previous oil tanker in the vicinity. This is evidential proof that the local people should no longer have the “Wool Pulled Over Their Eyes”. It’s time to take action and enforce sanctions on those responsible for inadequate safety measures resulting in oil spills.

The same analysis taken on Jan 27th shows no sign of an oil spill. However, the profile plot (A1 Eurosun) (A2 + A3 Rescue ships) indicates a probability of ferrous materials. “The fire onboard MT New Diamond has been successfully contained, as a result there is no risk of oil spill” (Press release 02th Sep 2020)

The following images taken shortly before and shortly after the fire broke-out verify that on this occasion the report appears to be credible. However, signs on oil slick 15 kms to the left of the image are clearly visible but irrelevant to the MT new Diamond.

Before (S1A_IW_GRDH_1SDV_20200831T001706_20200831T001741_034143_03F73B_ABD6)
After (S1A_IW_GRDH_1SDV_20200905T124913_20200905T124942_034224_03FA06_CEBC)

We can therefore conclude that satellite based remote sensing is an indispensable means of detecting potential environmental hazards far more effectively and efficiently than conventional aerial reconnaissance. Using a more reliable and sophisticated approach, the “Cova Contro” team will try to ensure a safer environment for the benefit of all living creatures on planet earth.