Soiled beaches cleanup effort continues
Photo courtesy DeeGolden
By Mike Aldax and Caitlin Cassiday
January 30, 2008
Clean up crews will continue to collect tar balls on beaches
from Pacifica to Carmel today after weathered oil and oily debris
was spotted on the San Mateo County coastline Monday.
Authorities are awaiting tests to determine whether the old oil
relates to the Cosco Busan oil spill on Nov. 7. At this point,
there is no evidence indicating the oil came from that spill,
Tar balls were not spotted at every beach along the coast, but
where they did wash up, crews collected anywhere from less than
one to five gallons per mile, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard said it wouldn't know the exact amount of weathered
oil that has washed up on the state's beaches for some time, since
the old oil is "mixed in with sand, rock and other debris."
Crews focused on Pacifica State Beach and JV Fitzgerald Marine
Reserve yesterday morning, Petty Officer Jonathan Cilley said.
There were 13 people cleaning Pacifica State Beach and 57 cleaning
the marine reserve, which is located just south of Montara.
"We are focusing our efforts on the marine reserve because
of the large number of marine organisms in that area," Cilley
said. "There is a big concern that if the oil is left there
it will permanently damage the area ... we want to preserve the
Crews were able to recover six 5-gallon bags of oily debris from
the beaches Monday, Cilley said. There is no estimate for when
they will be finished with the clean up, and Pacifica State Beach
as well as the marine reserve will remain closed until that time.
The oil was first spotted Monday morning on Pacifica State Beach
by a state park ranger, according to San Mateo County Office of
Emergency Services district coordinator Steve Mahaley.
Officials originally received reports of oily marine mammals,
but responders have not located any as of Tuesday, San Mateo County
Health Department spokeswoman Beverly Thames said.
Linda Mar and Sharp Park beaches are also closed today, but not
from oil, Thames said. Both beaches are suffering from increased
levels of bacteria due to sewage runoff from the recent storms.
Mahaley said that recent storms may have stirred up old oil and
washed it onto beaches.