Senator Boxer on the Bay Area Oil Spill   

Friday, November 9, 2007  

I am deeply concerned about the recent oil spill that is impacting the Bay Area and beyond. I’m working both to assess why this spill occurred and to make sure that it is cleaned up quickly and to the highest possible standards. I am including my letter to the Coast Guard regarding this incident, pasted below. You can count on me to continue working to ensure that the Bay Area environment and economy do not suffer in the long run.

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November 8, 2007

Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant
United States Coast Guard
2100 Second Street, SW
Washington, DC 20593

Dear Admiral Allen:

As I am sure you are aware, yesterday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m. PST, a container ship struck the western span of the Bay Bridge, resulting in an approximately 100-foot gash in the hull and the puncture of a fuel tank.

Initially, the U.S. Coast Guard thought only 140 gallons had spilled from the vessel, which was the estimate reported by the ship’s owners. We have now learned that the magnitude of the spill was grossly underestimated, and the accident has resulted in the spill of 58,000 gallons of heavy-duty bunker fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay.

My immediate concern is for the health and safety of the public as well as the birds, fish and wildlife of the Bay. To that end, it is crucial that the U.S. Coast Guard work in conjunction with the relevant federal, state, and local agencies to effectively mitigate this oil spill as quickly as possible.

But I am also very troubled by the Coast Guard’s delay in delivering accurate information to the public and the city of San Francisco. Many questions remain as to why it took an entire day to determine the gravity of this spill, and whether the Coast Guard took appropriate measures to conduct drug and alcohol tests on the ship’s pilot and navigators in a timely fashion.

I know my staff had a preliminary discussion with officials this afternoon, but I would like the U.S. Coast Guard to provide me with a phone briefing on the status of this oil spill, its current and projected impacts, and the actions the U.S. Coast Guard has taken with regard to containment and clean-up as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer, US Senator, California
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer