Oil Spill Spreads to Wildlife

Crews working to clean up Friday morning's oil spill in the San Francisco Bay have found some oil washed ashore, and spotted about a dozen oil-slicked birds, a U.S. Coast Guard petty officer said.

State officials anticipate that the spill will eventually result in the death of several dozen birds in the area.

Assessment teams have focused their efforts on Robert Crown Memorial State Beach, located between Kitty Hawk Road and Grand Street in Alameda, but stopped when the sun went down tonight to ensure the safety of the cleanup crews, according to Petty Officer Rachel Polish.

Early Friday morning, the Dubai Star, a Panamanian-flagged tanker, reported a spill during a fueling operation about two miles south of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The vessel's transfer system equipment had a mechanical failure while conducting bunkering operations with a fuel barge, according to the Coast Guard. Between 400 and 800 gallons of oil spilled into the Bay, forming an oil sheen about 2 miles long and about 200 yards wide.

The Coast Guard does not know how many dead oiled birds have been found, but state officials anticipate several dozen will end up dying because of the oil spill.

Wildlife experts have taken about 30 live oiled birds to the Wildlife Care and Education Center in Fairfield, according to the Coast Guard.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is assisting with the search for affected animals. Anyone who spots an affected animal should call (877) 823-6926 and not attempt to rescue the animal.

The cleanup crews focused on Robert Crown Memorial State Beach today after tar bells reportedly washed ashore at the beach. Oil was also found in Ballena Bay, and assessment teams also responded there, according to the Coast Guard.

The Alameda Estuary is also an area of focus due to its environmental sensitivity and economic importance to shipping operations in the Bay Area.

Cleanup crews have also searched areas between Berkeley and Emeryville and found no signs of oil on any shorelines there.

The Coast Guard has deployed 18 boats and people in the boats are skimming oil out of the water and laying down boom, a sponge-like material used to soak up the toxic substance. The vessel has been surrounded with more than 2,000 feet of boom, according to the Coast Guard.

Tides and winds have carried the substance in various directions around the Bay, said California Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Carol Singleton.

Coast Guard officials estimate a six-mile swath of shoreline along Alameda will see some sort of impact.

Ferry operations in the area have not been affected by the spill, according to the Coast Guard.

The California Department of Fish and Game has suspended fishing and shellfish harvesting in the surrounding areas until further notice. The precautionary suspension affects the Alameda County shoreline between the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

It's not yet clear how long the active cleanup will take, but Singleton said overall cleanup efforts, including removing tar balls from beaches, could last about a week.

Bay City News

Contact Us