Friday, November 09, 2007
On The Waterfront 1: San Francisco Bay Oil Spill
Hastily produced, hand-scrawled signs in six languages, including a bizarre icon, were posted along the piers of San Francisco advising people not to fish on Thursday.
This was in response to an empty container ship ramming into a stanchion around the bridge tower on Wednesday morning, which ripped a gash in its hull and caused an oil spill into the bay.
The ship, "Cosco Busan" could be seen parked in the bay on Thursday afternoon (in the photos above), like a naughty child who's been made to stand in the playground by himself after bad behavior.
Fingers are being pointed wildly by various politicians and citizens because the initial information being disseminated all day Wednesday by the ship's crew and the Coast Guard was that the spill was tiny, a mere 140 gallons, when in fact the amount was closer to 58,000 gallons. If that information had been known, efforts to block the oil slick from sweeping under piers and onto shore could have been made.
The spill produced a huge oil slick that sent noxious fumes throughout San Francisco's Financial District on Wednesday morning from about 11AM to 2PM, and caused the evacuation of the Port Commission's Pier One offices next to the Ferry Building. By the time the local news outlets finally put out the word that this was a serious disaster rather than a minor blip, the worst of it for people was over.
The response by oil spill recovery crews was quick, but not enough. They were only able to recover about 8,000 gallons of the oil laying on the water before the other 50,000 gallons sunk beneath the surface and started migrating throughout the bay, where it has been appearing in the Marin headlands, San Pablo Bay, Albany and Angel Island.
The malefactor in all this was not, as many initially surmised in internet commentary, those dirty Asian foreigners polluting our pristine Bay environment with their lax regulations, but instead a local Bay Pilot, Captain John Cota, who has a history of sloppiness that finally caught up with him when he hit the tower above on the right.
The real victims are going to be the wildlife who have somehow managed to survive within San Francisco Bay's already polluted ecology, and animal lovers throughout the area have been getting hysterical.
It's way past time to figure out a way to fuel our world without burning carbon-based molecules.