Tuesday, November 13, 2007

They're Killing The Bay

On Wednesday November 7th a container ship leaving the Port of Oakland clipped the footing of a tower on the Bay Bridge. Although the bridge was undamaged the ship sustained a long gash in its side.

Originally it was reported that only 140 gallons of oil had been spilled. It wasn't until the next morning that the true extent of the 58,000 gallon spill was realized.

The Coast Guard response was far from stellar. They have been backpedaling on various aspects of their response or lack of it.

Volunteers work to help save the wildlife.

UPDATE 11/14/07:

The pilot of the freighter that struck the Bay Bridge last week, fouling the bay with 58,000 gallons of fuel, told federal investigators that the accident occurred after the ship's radar failed and the captain of the vessel made a monumental error, a lawyer for the pilot said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger postponed the start of the bay's normally vibrant fishing season, while cleanup crews made significant headway on the worst-hit beaches, and politicians and environmentalists braced for a flurry of state and federal hearings into the spill.

The most startling of the day's revelations came from attorney John Meadows, who represents John Cota, the pilot of the Cosco Busan last Wednesday. Cota said the Chinese captain of the ship guided the freighter toward a bridge tower in the fog, the attorney said.

Meadows said his client told him and investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board, which is looking into the crash, that the Cosco Busan's radar "conked out" twice - first before departure and again as the ship was near the lighthouse on Yerba Buena Island.

More Here - includes a time line of the incident plus numerous links to orginaztions involved in the cleanup.

My question is why this 900 foot long ship was allowed to navigate in the fog with 300 feet visibility and a faulty radar?

UPDATE #2 11/14/07:
The Coast Guard and the owners of the Cosco Busan freighter apparently botched the drug and alcohol testing of the crew of the ship after it hit the Bay Bridge last week and dumped 58,000 gallons of oil into the bay, Coast Guard officials told The Chronicle this morning.

The agency informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday that ship's operators had failed to test all the crew members for drugs within the 32 hours required by federal law. In fact, some of the crew was not tested until 53 hours after the incident last week.

The immediate testing of the crew after an incident is the responsibility of the owner and operator of the vessel, but the Coast Guard is responsible for making sure the testing rules are strictly followed.

The Coast guard, for whom I have always held the highest regards, is beginning to look like FEMA:

"It certainly shows the operator missed a crucial detail," Lt. Commander Tony Guild, who oversees inspections, investigations and analysts for the Coast Guard's western region.

Guild said a Coast Guard casualty investigator only learned on Friday that the drug testing of the crew had not taken place from an agent for the ship's owner, Regal Stone Ltd.

"(The agent) said, 'We only tested the master for drugs, so the Coast Guard investigating officer said, 'You need to test everybody,' " Guild said.

Guild said the Coast Guard investigator moved quickly to order the drug tests, but acknowledged the agency bore some responsibility for failing to get the tests done on time.

"I think we could have done a better job of that," he said.

There also seems to be a huge discrepancy in the amount of oil recovered so far:
More than 2,745 gallons of oil has been collected from the water so far, the command center for the spill reported this morning. Another 580 gallons have been dispersed naturally, and an estimated 4,060 gallons of oil has evaporated.

The total has been revised in recent days from a total of 20,546 reported recovered from the water last week, as emergency officials were able to more accurately gauge the precision of what was water, what was oil, and what was actually pulled up from the bay.

So they were reporting over 20,000 gallons last week but now it is only a little over 7,000 gallons including that which was "dispersed naturally" - about 1/3 of what was originally reported.

What exactly is "dispersed naturally" - was that the oil stuck on the dead birds?

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