Thursday, November 8, 2007

Newsom Inspects Oil Spill

Gavin Newsom got his hands dirty today inspecting the 58,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the bay after a container ship rammed into the Bay Bridge. The mayor plans to take legal action against the responsible company or agency and is equally concerned over incorrect information from the Coast Guard about the extent of the spill.

Oil began leaking into the bay after the 65,131-ton Cosco Busan, an 810-foot-long container ship, crashed into the base of a tower of the Bay Bridge's western span in heavy fog at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Until 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard said only 140 gallons had spilled from the vessel. Coast Guard officials said that estimate came from the ship's owners and that the Coast Guard only realized the spill was much greater after it conducted its own inspection of the bay.

"When you're off by 58,000 gallons that's a big gap. This is not acceptable. This wasn't in the margin of error."

The damage to city property is still being assessed, and local officials said they are working with federal and regional authorities on the cleanup.

"I'm not saying anyone lied. I'm saying there was wrong information. It all goes to intent. Was there intent to mislead? That needs to be assessed. There's a lot of finger pointing right now....I'm just concerned about mitigating the damage and cleaning it up and then holding those people responsible."

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. William Uberti has said the initial cleanup response was appropriate, but city officials said today that had they known the spill was 58,000 early on, they would have laid down more boom lines and responded to the event with more urgency.

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