Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another ship strikes Bay Area Bridge

January 12, 2008

Two months after an oil spill blackened San Francisco Bay, authorities Friday were investigating what caused another vessel to hit one of the region's signature bridges.

This time, a 300-foot barge loaded with oil struck a piling that supports the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, but no oil spilled. The accident occurred in dense fog and darkness about 6 p.m. Thursday, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. The crews of two tugboats that were towing the oil barge Cascade passed sobriety tests.

Bay authorities said a spill from the barge, which can carry more than 3 million gallons, might have dwarfed the Nov. 7 accident, when the 900-foot container ship Cosco Busan sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and dumped 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil into the bay.

That spill killed thousands of seabirds, and the commercial crab season was delayed as heavy, toxic goo blackened beaches throughout the region. Local officials criticized the Coast Guard for initially downplaying the severity of that spill, and some suggested the initial response was too little, too late.

On Thursday evening, Coast Guard boats responded within 17 minutes of receiving word.

From the LA Times



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