Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for October 31, 2009

Oil Spill Hits the Bay

Almost exactly two years after the tragic Cosco Busan oil spill, another bunker fuel spill has contaminated San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper has been in close contact with the Coast Guard, the State oil spill agency and local government responders, tracking the response efforts and helping facilitate communication about protecting very sensitive ecological sites.

The fueling accident, which happened just south of the Bay Bridge early Friday morning, caused at least several hundred gallons of bunker fuel to spill into the Bay. The leak was stopped quickly, but the slick ultimately spread to several miles long. As of Saturday midday, there are reports of oiled shorelines in Alameda, particularly Robert Crowne Memorial Beach, which poses a possible threat to nearby bird sanctuaries and migrating bird populations. If you see oiled shorelines, please report them to hotline@baykeeper.org. If you see oiled wildlife, please keep your distance, and report them to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-UCD-OWCN.

So far we are seeing improvements in response efforts compared to the response to the Cosco Busan oil spill, but frustratingly, there were once again delays in boom placement and in state notifications of some local county and city officials whose shorelines may be impacted. Baykeeper is particularly concerned about protecting sensitive sites around the Bay that provide key habitat for at-risk populations of birds, fish and marine mammals. This month many shorebirds are migrating through the area along the Pacific Flyway, an important migratory route for birds flying south for the winter. The spill also threatens the herring fishery of San Francisco Bay, one of the few remaining local commercial fisheries whose season was already closed this year due to extremely low numbers of healthy fish. Along the East Bay shoreline, all fishing has been stopped and parks closed.

Baykeeper will continue to track response and cleanup efforts in the coming days and weeks, and we will announce any volunteer opportunities through this e-newsletter. Since the Cosco Busan oil spill, Baykeeper has been the only non-governmental agency participating in planning meetings, exercises and drills in order to improve oil spill response for San Francisco Bay. Please support our efforts to help protect the Bay from oil spills by making a donation today.

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