Thursday, May 29, 2008

Italian Satellites Monitor Earthquake Damages In Sichuan

Italian Satellites Monitor Earthquake Damages In Sichuan

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2008) — COSMO-SkyMed, the Italian satellite system for Earth observation, is being used to help the Chinese areas hit by the devastating earthquake of May 12. Yesterday, by request of the Chinese Government, the ASI satellites captured two images of the area surrounding the city of Guan Xian, close to the epicentre, thus proving to be able to operate on critical areas with very short response time.

Moreover, due to the difficult weather conditions, only the Italian radar satellites could operate yesterday on Sichuan. The picture clearly shows a dam, that will be constantly monitored in the next days for damages.

The images were processed at ASI's Data Acquisition Centre in Matera, southern Italy, managed for ASI by Telespazio.

In the next few days, COSMO-SkyMed will continue providing useful data to the Chinese Gonvernment, to the Italian Civilian Protection Department (which is planning a mission in Sichuan) and to various NGOs. COSMO images will be used to detect damages to buildings and metal structures, including bridges and dams.

COSMO-SKyMed is a satellite system for Earth observation by the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Defence Ministry. Telespazio (a Thales/Finmeccanica company) manages the ground segment, while the satelliets are built by Thales Alenia Space Italia. Once completed, the system will be made of four satellites, two of which are already in orbit and operational.


Disaster preparedness meetings headed to libraries

BY JOHN HOMAN, The Southern
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:55 AM CDT
MARION — A series of community preparedness meetings presented by the Williamson County Emergency Management Agency have been scheduled at local libraries.

The meetings are designed to inform the public about safety measures that can be taken during disasters. The possibility of organizing Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) throughout the county will also be discussed at the meetings. Such teams would consist of community members trained to assist in disaster response.

The first meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Carnegie Library in Marion. Meetings are also scheduled in Herrin (7 p.m. on May 28); Carterville (7 p.m. on May 29) and Crab Orchard (6 p.m. on June 10). Meeting dates have not yet been established in Johnston City and Pittsburg. The meetings are open to the public and will last for about an hour.

National Hurricane Center Ready For Season

The National Hurricane Center is getting ready for an active season and many of us don't know what the administration does or how they impact decisions in emergency preparedness.

Bill Read, Director of the National Hurricane Center explains, "Well, our operational responsibility is to issue all of the advisories, warnings, and forecasts of tropical systems that could produce damage or threat to loss of life to the Caribbean, Atlantic, Gulf, and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The National Hurricane Center is based in Miami, Florida, but sends out information to all possibly affected areas.

"Once an area of disturbed weather that has a closed low that we're actually going to start writing advisories on, we go through a 6 hour cycle. We're gathering data, running models, creating a forecast, briefing people, issuing the forecast and we start all over again every 6 hours," says Read.

They are staffed with 45 government employees with extra staff contracted during busy times. A separate crew contacts hurricane hunters to investigate a storm. The information collected about the storm from hurricane hunters is sent to the hurricane center and then to the public. In the mean time, Bill Read is advising us all to be prepared for the upcoming season.

"You all know what a hurricane can do here so I hope you all have kept up with your planning on that. Made correction for things that didn't work right for Katrina and are ready for this season."


North Sea oil platform evacuated over leak

OSLO, Norway (AP) -- More than 150 people were evacuated from an oil platform in the North Sea on Saturday because of an oil and gas leak that rescuers feared could result in an explosion.

"Oil is leaking from one of the shafts of the Statfjord A platform in the North Sea," operator StatoilHydro ASA said. "The situation is serious and confused."

Two people were exposed to gas during the incident, but none was seriously injured, said company spokesman Ola Morten Aanestad.

Oil was being discharged into the sea from the platform for safety reasons and repair vessels were heading to the area to contain the spill, the company said.

Aanestad said there was a small risk that gas released during the oil leak would ignite, so 156 of the 217 people on the platform were evacuated to nearby platforms Saturday morning. Sixty-one emergency workers remained on Statfjord A, he said.

StatoilHydro said the oil leak occurred during maintenance work on a pipe in one of the platform's three shafts and that oil was leaking from one or several storage cells. The storage cells hold 1.3 million barrels of oil, the company said.

Production was stopped immediately after the leak was detected, Aanestad said, adding it was not clear how long the platform would remain shut down. "We're primarily focusing on staff and environment right now," he said.

The platform began production in 1979 and is one of three being operated by StatoilHydro in the Statfjord field, located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of the coastal city of Bergen.

The company said Statfjord is one of the oldest producing fields on the Norwegian continental shelf and the largest oil discovery in the North Sea.