An original version of this post stated that SkyTruth’s image was taken Nov. 25, of the oil slick on the ocean floor. It was actually taken Nov. 12, of the oil slick on the ocean surface. This version has been corrected.
An oil leak at a Chevron Corp. deep-water well off the coast of Rio de Janeiro this month is not going away. Not for Chevron, which has been met with outrage locally for its mistake, and not for the ocean, which still has an oil slick after two weeks, a byproduct of the 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea. +
Brazilian authorities say the corporation failed to initially provide accurate information to authorities about the extent of the spill. They “tried to make the accident less than it was,” says Magda Chambriard, director of Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency.
Regulators are also skeptical of Chevron’s current estimates on how much oil is still leaking from the ocean floor — “infrequent droplets,” according to a company spokesperson. Chambriard scoffs at that. “We are still far from the good end” of resolving the problem, she says. At its height, the leak released 200 to 330 barrels per day.
“The oil slick may be smaller, but it’s still there,” confirms John Amos of SkyTruth, a group that promotes environmental awareness and protection with remote sensing and digital mapping technology. “And I expect we will see it there for a long time.”
SkyTruth has this image of the oil slick at the ocean surface from satellite imagery taken Nov. 12, before Chevron started plugging the well:
Regulators suspended all of Chevron’s operations in the country this week and plan to fine the oil giant more than $80 million. Rio de Janeiro’s environment minister, Carlos Minc, has said Chevron might be banned from Brazil altogether.
The company says it considers the suspension of its drilling activities in Brazil “premature” and “unnecessary.”