Loss, Risk and Disaster Briefing – Week 41, 2021

Welcome to the loss, risk and disaster briefing from the team at Skytek, a leading developer of software solutions derived from space and satellite technology, including REACT, our one-stop geolocation and satellite positioning service for the insurance sector.

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CALIFORNIA DOUBLE POLLUTION WHAMMY

Recent news articles have looked at the air pollution affecting Southern California as a result of ship’s massing off the coast, while the area also wrestles with a pipeline spill. These issues are covered and assessed in a recent Skytek REACT, Marine Pollution advisory. We combine geolocation, satellite Earth Observation imagery and big data to give subscribers access to real-time information. REACT creates accurate insights and actionable data that support you, your team, and your business to make more profitable decisions.  

SHIP BACKLOG

The record backlog of cargo ships off the coast of Southern California isn’t just making it harder to find furniture, children’s toys, or pet food in stores across the country. According to California regulators, it’s also driving a spike in air pollution, which threatens the health of vulnerable communities nearby. Dozens of vessels are running their secondary diesel engines as they anchor or drift near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the ninth-busiest shipping complex in the world. The logjam first emerged last fall due to Covid-related supply chain disruptions and, now with the holiday shopping season approaching, is only getting worse.

SHIP STRIKE MAY HAVE BEEN MONTHS AGO

A Southern California underwater oil pipeline was likely struck by an anchor several months to a year before a leak spilt tens of thousands of gallons of crude, the U.S. Coast Guard has announced. A large vessel of some kind may have struck the massive pipeline, shattering the concrete casing but not necessarily causing the slender crack from which oil spewed last weekend, said USCG Capt. Jason Neubauer. The longer timeline was partly based on marine growth spotted on the pipe in an underwater survey. He added that the pipe, which was found to be intact last October, may also have been struck several other times by other ships’ anchors over the course of the period. No ships have been identified, though the leak fouled beaches and killed seabirds.

IS HURRICANE SEASON OVER YET?

Everybody wants to know if hurricane season is over…according to researchers. The short answer is…maybe, but probably not. The non-tropical system off the Carolina coast had strong enough winds yesterday to be named Tropical Storm Wanda. Still, it was missing the organized circulation that a tropical system has to have. Hurricane Hunters flew through the system and found 50 mph winds nearby, but they weren’t really related to the sloppy, broad circulation. So wanna-be Wanda’s opportunity has likely passed. 2021 has seen 15 named storms, with four major hurricanes, and with the season counting down.

TOKYO AREA JOLTED BY QUAKE

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake jolted the Tokyo area on Thursday night Wk40, registering a strong 5 on Japan’s intensity scale. There was no threat of a tsunami. According to the Meteorological Agency, the quake centred in Chiba Prefecture occurred at 10:41 p.m. at a depth of 80 kilometres. Authorities were still investigating, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in Chiba Prefecture or neighbouring Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures, NHK reported.

FATAL FLAW IN MAPPING

The New York City homes where 11 people drowned during Hurricane Ida last month are located in areas designated on federal flood maps as having low inundation risk, a senior member of Congress said yesterday. The disclosure by House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) illustrates the shortcomings of the nation’s flood maps as Congress debates a historic spending provision for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mapping program. Hurricane Ida killed 13 New York City residents, including 11 who drowned in residential basements when record rainfall overwhelmed the city’s sewer system and caused widespread flooding.

PAKISTAN HIT BY QUAKE

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit southern Pakistan at the tail end of Wk40, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 200, government officials said. The quake struck Balochistan at 3 am local time, and at a depth of around 20km (12 miles), the US Geological Survey said. Many of the victims died when roofs and walls collapsed, Suhail Anwar Hashmi, a senior provincial government official, told Agence France-Presse. A woman and six children were among 20 dead, he said.

AMERICANS MOVING TO WILDFIRE ZONES

Climate change is making wildfires more frequent, severe and hard to predict — not to mention more costly, as governments, insurers and local residents pay to pick up the pieces after a blaze. Yet Americans are flocking to areas at high risk for burning, and the pandemic accelerated that trend: During the first year of Covid-19, the number of U.S. households moving into areas with a recent history of wildfire increased 21% over the previous year. Areas without that recent history saw net moves fall by 15%.

LA PALMA VOLCANIC GROWTH

A lava delta created by the volcano eruption on La Palma continues to grow as volcanic gas rises from the “new island”. Footage shared on social media by Gran Canaria firefighters, shows the growth of the “land reclaimed from the sea”. According to the director of the National Geographic Institute in the Canary Islands, the lava delta now exceeds 89 acres in size. The volcano eruption on La Palma continues to cause issues, with reports of “intense” and “much more aggressive” activity in recent days.

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