SF Bay Oil Spill - Info From Surfrider

Posted by on Fri, November 9, 2007

Thanks Wes Womack at San Francisco Surfrider Chapter for the information about the oil spill.  He says:

I am getting dozens of emails today asking how Surfrider are going to help with the oil spill cleanup. I’ve also received word that parts of Ocean Beach already have oil in the water, so we’re recommending that everyone remain out of the water at OB for the time being.

I just talked to woman who is in charge of oil spill control at my work (BCDC), She is out at Fort Mason where all the involved agencies are meeting and working from. She told me to call the Coast Guard’s Public Info Line at (510) 772-8865. I left a message to see what environmental groups and the public can do to help. I also called the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary office at (415) 561-6622. They are conducting surveys to see the damage of the spill (counting animals, taking water samples, ect).

The Farallones contact gave me the following information that we may want to pass on to others:

If people see oil in the water, they should call (985) 781-0804
If people see oiled wildlife, they should call (877) 823- 6926. The animals will be picked up and taken to a facility to be cared for.

As for beach clean-up, people have to be specially trained (HAZMAT) to conduct an oil spill clean-up. The beaches are closed for health and safety for the time being. But, I am sure that volunteers will be needed at some point. We should contact our volunteers when the professional clean-up crew or other agencies or groups need volunteers. As far as I can tell, they are not having the public help yet. I’ll let you know if i hear anything more.

For those of you who haven’t heard, a cargo ship hit the Bay Bridge yesterday (Wednesday 11/7/07), spilling 58,000 gallons of oil into SF Bay, 8,000 of which was contained at the ship by the CoastGuard. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was 11 million gallons, so the spill is relatively small. The latest story I can find is here: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_739 9949?nclick_check=1.

Take special note that all beaches inside the mouth of the bay are posted and closed. The oil could spread to Ocean Beach by today or tomorrow.

The Coastguard are deploying all available satff to start the cleanup process. Our chapter have no formal plans for cleanup at this time. Technically our chapter focuses on Ocean Beach specifically, however if people want to get involved in the general cleanup, I suggest starting by contacting the CoastGuard. I can’t seem to find anything online pointing volunteers in any certain direction. Our core group are discussing scenarios that would involve cleanup of Ocean Beach if that becomes necessary in the next few days.

Most of all, be safe this weekend and keep an eye on the news, as the oil could potentially drift to Ocean Beach. And if Ft. Point and Dead Man’s are firing this weekend, you may need to give it a miss for your own safety. Spread the word!

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has established a website that is being updated frequently with new information.


And a friend from the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in Marin next to Rodeo Beach tells me that a press conference has just concluded.  Among the information passed along was a new warning/request to dog owners:  Please keep dogs off of impacted beaches for their safety and to prevent them from scaring oiled birds back into the water where rescuers cannot get to them.

Here’s the latest message from Surfrider.  (I have to split it into three separate comments, as it’s quite long):

Most of all, please stay out of the water this weekend, and do NOT take it on yourself to start cleaning up oil. Contact the appropriate parties below to see how you can help:
  Where and How to Volunteer Hotlines and Contact Numbers Surfrider’s Sunday Beach Cleanup Important Volunteer Information

Where and How to Volunteer

The environmental group Baykeeper is soliciting volunteers at http://www.baykeeper.org.

Oiled Wildlife Care Network also have a volunteer hotline at (800) 228-4544.

Activists are unofficially organizing efforts from Sports Basement in the Presidio from 10am-5pm today and throughout the weekend. They’ve asked any volunteers to wear old clothes and shoes and bring dishwashing gloves.

We’ve also heard reports of people literally “sweeping” the coagulated oil clumps off the sand, into trash bags (in protective clothing of course). Surfrider cannot recommend this for safety reasons, but I thought I would pass that along.

Important Volunteer Information

Please do not try to handle injured wildlife yourself (that’s our official legal stance). Animals are being taken (by the appropriate authorities) to Fort Mason Center… they are being transported in warm and dark spaces with no loud sounds.

As for beach clean-up, technically, people have to be specially trained (HAZMAT) to conduct oil spill clean-ups in most areas. Beaches on the North and South sides of the bay, including Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, China Beach, Fort Point, and Cronkite are CLOSED for health and safety for the time being.

I also received this from Lynn Adams of the Pacifica Beach Coalition:

Thank you for the many calls/emails about the Oil Spill in San Francisco and your desire to help.  I have had no reports of oil on Pacifica’s beaches yet but the first report of oiled birds in Shelter Cove just arrived. 

The Marine Mammal Center is taking direction from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (http://www.owcn.org) and suggests that anyone interested in volunteering check in with them.  I called the OWCN volunteer number 800-228-4544 and was instructed to go to the http://www.owcn.org website for instructions and updates.  Click here: UC Davis: Oiled Wildlife Care Network

The number for Oil Sightings is 985-781-0804.
The number for wildlife reportings is 877-823-6926

For more news on the oil spill, please feel free to go to http://www.ktvu.com  or Click here: KTVU.com - Search

Should I hear more that we can do, I will keep you posted.  If you hear more, please keep me posted.
Of course we are all sickened by this development.  Perhaps we need to follow it up with action and also legislative pressure to have better safeguards and responses in place.

Thank you
Lynn Adams


(continued from above…)

This update just sent to me by Aaron Tinker of the Marine Science Institute in RWC

Please see the attached press release from NOAA and the Press Release/Incident Summary from PRBO Conservation Science below and on their website. Please also check out the SFBJV website over the next day or so for news coverage of the spill (http://www.sfbayjv.org/news.html ). Please distribute.

PRBO Press Release/Incident Summary


PRBO’s Oil Spill Response Team have been deployed as of November 9. 2007, since the Cosco Busan spilled 58,000 gallons of oil in SF Bay, early Thursday morning. 

On November 9, 2007, our Oil Spill Response Team will be setting up the official intake and processing system for this spill at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia , CA , an Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), and part of the International Bird Rescue and Research Center (IBRRC).

Identifying and documenting the oiled animals (live and dead) is a critical component of spill response- this is the scientific evidence used to legally assess the impact of the spill on wildlife.  PRBO’s Oil Spill Response Team is part of the state of California ‘s Incident Command Structure.

PRBO does not collect or rehabilitate wildlife.  If you would like to volunteer to help with the Cosco Busan spill, contact the IBRRC at 707-207-0380, or go to http://www.ibrrc.org/ or the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at http://www.owcn.org

All of PRBO’s biologists in the field are noting oiled wildlife.

As of Nov. 8, 2007, PRBO biologists have noted oiled Common Murres on the Farallones.  Island biologists are now conducting intense daily surveys of the island and are in direct communication with USFWS about the Farallon wildlife.

If you would like to speak to someone at PRBO about the oil spill, please contact Melissa Pitkin at 707-781-2555 ext. 307.


(continued from above…)

To report oiled wildlife:

Call the Oiled Wildlife Hotline: 877.823.6926 to report oiled animals or oiled waterways.

Oiled LIVE mammals should be reported to the Marine Mammal Center at 415.464-5170. Oiled dead mammals should be reported to the California Academy of Science at 415.289.7325.

If you see a single oiled bird, call Lindsay Wildlife Museum at Montclair Veterinary Clinic & Hospital, 1961 Mountain Blvd. , Oakland , (510) 339-8600.

If you see evidence of oil affecting multiple birds, try International Bird Rescue Research Center, Cordelia, Solano Co. (707) 207-0380, ext. 110 (hospital extension) or Wildcare, San Rafael , (415) 456-SAVE (7283).

Natalie Cosentino-Manning at the NOAA Restoration Center is collecting pictures and information about the spill. Please email your photos and information to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), please cc mlatta
Melissa Pitkin
PRBO Education and Outreach Director
3820 Cypress Drive, #11
Petaluma, CA 94954
(707) 781-2555 ext. 307

(continued one more time below…)


Also I saw this in the news.  It picks on the coast guard, which I am not ready to do yet (I am withholding judgment for now), but some excerpts are below.  For the whole article go here:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/09/BADRT9K8D.DTL
Coast Guard says it took too long to announce size of oil spill
Kevin Fagan, Peter Fimrite,Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, November 9, 2007

“That is unacceptable,” Coast Guard Adm. Craig Bone replied when asked about the length of time it took for his agency to announce the magnitude of the spill.

Bone spoke with the reporters today at Fort Mason before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived to view the catastrophe. Officials from San Francisco to Congress have lambasted the Coast Guard for its response and promised legal action or public hearings on the matter.

“We needed to be better at communicating,” Bone said.

But he said the response to the crisis was appropriate and that there was nothing more that should have been done to contain the bunker fuel once it began to pour from the Cosco Busan.”
“On the bay, ocean and more than 18 beaches throughout the Bay Area from Hunters Point to Stinson Beach, rescue workers and volunteers have now collected 73 oil-soaked birds and taken them to recovery centers. At least 19 birds have been found dead. The total number of injured birds is expected to rise into the hundreds.

Bone said his agencies welcome volunteers, but cautioned that people should call a wildlife rescue agency instead of rushing out to the beach.

“The key here is, if you think you can handle birds or wildlife, you have to be properly trained or you can cause more harm,” he said.

This morning, the strong tides that race out of the Golden Gate brought another coating of oily sludge to Marin County beaches.

At Rodeo Beach, two-dozen hazardous materials workers in orange suits trudged around the sand shoveling gobs of black goo, mixed with beach sand, and putting it into plastic bags. A Caterpillar tractor toted away huge piles of the bags from the beach.

Meanwhile, other workers in white hazmat suits - biologists and officials from the Coast Guard and Fish and Game - walked the beaches monitoring the spill and determining what decontamination measures were needed.”


Comment 6
Sat, November 10, 2007 2:01am
Kevin Barron
All my comments

“Also I saw this in the news.  It picks on the coast guard, which I am not ready to do yet “

Anneliese’s reference is paramount to the armchair-quarterbacking on every government agency’s response time, press release, official’s comments, approach, reaction, proposal, solution, and/or allocation of funds… it reminds me how ridiculous it can get. In the end, it creates civic organizations which require so much delicate tip-toe’ing, careful verbiage, and organizational bloat and process to ensure the public firing squad doesn’t hold the accountable for the slightest mis-step.

Yes, real nice.  Some folks are already pointing fingers when we need to deal with the mess.  That was Surfrider’s quote about reserving judgement, not mine.  An email from Barbara Boxer hit my inbox this morning publishing her letter to the Coast Guard for an explanation as “to why it took an entire day to determine the gravity of this spill.”

Me, I see it as the Coast Guard was, perhaps, attempting to assess the situation during that day.  All efforts were towards analysis, not publicity and communication yet.  Seems reasonable.  But I’m not personally involved, so who knows?

Comment 8
Sun, November 11, 2007 8:33am
Dot Norris
All my comments

When and where the information was compromised needs to be determined to ascertain the break down in communications.  The public and the responsible agencies need to be alerted in a timely manner when something like this happens to be able to react in an appropriate manner. 

In light of the current situation, do we make it mandatory for all vessels using the port to have double hauls, not just oil tankers?

Hi Dot:
Yes, failure analysis is valuable, but we were commenting on the finger-pointing, blame-game occurring.

I thought of your comment while listening to this report yesterday on NPR:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16245002

The double hull question is turned down as a solution, due to it being too expensive to rebuild the world fleet. (!)  My question is, How expensive is the price to protect our beautiful world?  Another question is, Can we ever get off our oil dependency?

I only have questions, no answers.  :(