Feinstein says oil spill should not have happened
Senator Dianne Feinstein.
File photo by Luke
By Caitlin Cassady
November 11, 2007
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at a news conference today
that everything she has heard about the oil spill "indicates
that this should not have happened.''
According to U.S. Coast Guard officials, human error seems to
be a cause of the accident that leaked 58,000 gallons of oil into
the San Francisco Bay Wednesday morning. Authorities are investigating
all possible angles to see what led the 900-foot container ship
to clip a tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Local
officials have asked that the investigation cover everything from
cause to response to prevention.
Feinstein declined to comment on the cause of the crash until
all the facts had been reviewed, but she did discuss needed improvements
regarding the shipping industry in San Francisco Bay.
"We can improve our communications systems, our management
systems,'' Feinstein said, as well as improving the systems that
control ships. Once the investigation is completed, Feinstein
said she will "move with alacrity,'' to review legal options
against the responsible parties.
Meanwhile, cleanup efforts are ongoing across the bay, Coast
Guard Rear Adm. Craig Bone said. Beach cleanup crews are expected
to double in size in the next two days and skimmer vessels continue
to operate throughout the bay and in the Pacific Ocean.
Cleanup crews, however, have met with some challenges.
"Because of the currents and the wind, the oil is spreading
and breaking up,'' Bone said. "The oil is becoming so thin
that skimmers are not picking up the same quantities of oil that
they did in the first few days of response.''
As the oil becomes tar balls that are floating toward beaches,
volunteers have been attending informational meetings to find
out what they can do to help with the cleanup.
According to Bill Roberts, a Coast Guard spokesman, volunteers
are required to have at least 24 hours of training before they
can help clean up beaches, due to the hazardous nature of the
oil. Because of this restriction volunteers may not be able to
do much more than assist crews who have already received the proper
training for handling hazardous materials.
Training sessions were supposed to have been held in San Francisco,
Richmond and Marin Saturday, but the sessions were actually more
of an informational meeting to inform volunteers about the risks
of clean up operations, according to Laura Phillips with the Office
of Emergency Services. Training sessions are being organized.
Regal Stone Ltd., the company that owns the container ship Cosco
Busan, is paying for all cleanup costs associated with the spill,
Coast Guard Lt. Anya Hunter said.
"What makes this area great is the San Francisco Bay,''
Feinstein said. "We need to see what we can do to prevent
an incident like this from happening again.''
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