CNN interviews Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) on the EPA ASPECT Aircraft

Wednesday, July 13, 2010, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Correspondent Ines Ferre interviewed Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) who fought to keep the EPA’s ASPECT Aircraft flying. ASPECT (Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology) is the Nation’s only 24/7 airborne emergency response chemical and radiological mapping program. Dr. Robert Kroutil, the team’s lead scientist, figured out how to reprogram ASPECT’s software to ensure that it detect the difference between oil, oil sheen, algae blooms, and turbulent water. From the air, algae and oil look similar. ASPECT’s new capability to detect oil makes the aircraft invaluable to the efforts surrounding the environmental disaster that BP created on April 20, 2010.

Prior to Rep. Taylor’s leadership in organizing the response efforts for Mississippi, the response was characterized as playing Marco Polo in the Gulf like a bunch of headless chickens.

Leveraging his 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard where he lead search and rescue efforts and his leadership in the Katrina aftermath, Rep. Taylor’s expertise has ensured that the ASPECT team remain in the Gulf and be tasked with flying the Mississippi Gulf. Equally as important, Rep. Taylor is the reason that the coordination between what was in the air, the ground, and the water has turned into a smoother, cooperative, and effective effort to prevent oil from entering the Mississippi Sound.

Airborne remote sensing for Deepwater Horizon oil spill emergency response

Airborne remote sensing for Deepwater Horizon oil spill emergency response

Imaging Spectrometry XV. Edited by Shen, Sylvia S.; Lewis, Paul E. Proceedings of the SPIE, Volume 7812, pp. 78120E-78120E-13 (2010).

On April 28, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) aircraft was deployed to Gulfport, Mississippi to provide airborne remotely sensed air monitoring and situational awareness data and products in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. The ASPECT aircraft was released from service on August 9, 2010 after having flown over 75 missions that included over 250 hours of flight operation. ASPECT’s initial mission responsibility was to provide air quality monitoring (i.e., identification of vapor species) during various oil burning operations. The ASPECT airborne wide-area infrared remote sensing spectral data was used to evaluate the hazard potential of vapors being produced from open water oil burns near the Deepwater Horizon rig site. Other significant remote sensing data products and innovations included the development of an advanced capability to correctly identify, locate, characterize, and quantify surface oil that could reach beaches and wetland areas. This advanced identification product provided the Incident Command an improved capability to locate surface oil in order to improve the effectiveness of oil skimmer vessel recovery efforts directed by the US Coast Guard. This paper discusses the application of infrared spectroscopy and multispectral infrared imagery to address significant issues associated with this national crisis. More specifically, this paper addresses the airborne remote sensing capabilities, technology, and data analysis products developed specifically to optimize the resources and capabilities of the Deepwater Horizon Incident Command structure personnel and their remediation efforts.

DOI: 10.1117/12.863258

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Los Alamos Supports the U.S. EPA During an ASPECT Quick Reaction Deployment to the Marcus Oil Chemical Fire in Houston, Texas, 12/03/04

At 6 pm Central Time on Friday 12/03/04, the Marcus Oil and Chemical Plant located in southwest Houston, Texas was reported by plant personnel to be on fire.  The plant is a large manufacturer of a polyethylene wax that is used in a variety of consumer products.  Within 15 minutes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to deploy the ASPECT aircraft from the Waxahachie, Texas hangar to support ground HazMat teams.  The focus of the deployment was to determine the threat of downwind chemical hazards at the site.  Initial observers at the site reported flames several hundred feet high.  The Houston Police and Fire Departments immediately evacuated a 4 square block area around the plant.

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