Bay Area Briefs

Tuesday October 01, 2002

Coast Guard says Luckenback oil-removal work completed 

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Coast Guard officials announced they have completed months of work offshore by divers and engineers to recover some 85,000 gallons of oil from an old wrecked ship before wintry weather sets in. 

Standing on a San Francisco pier beside the hired marine salvage barge that served as a floating island and support for teams of divers entering the SS Jacob Luckenbach, Lt. Michael Lebsack estimated that 500 people altogether worked to trace the oil that for a decade had been mysteriously killing birds along the coast.  

It turned out to be from a ship that sank 17 miles west of the city nearly a half-century ago. 

Work that began in late May was done on Sept. 26, he explained, months after the initial plan had indicated. “We thought, heck, we'll be done in 30 or 40 days,” he recalled. 

But difficult and dangerous conditions in the frigid water 175 feet below the surface, along with a bout of rough seas early on, kept stretching the schedule further and further toward fall. The thick oil had to be warmed for underwater pumping teams to do their work. 

Ed Ueber, who heads the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, thanked all the state and federal agencies involved in the unprecedented effort, but particularly the six divers.  

“They really risked their lives to go down there,” he said. 

Ueber estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 seabirds died over the years in a region that ranks among the nation's most precious for bird and mammal diversity.  

“It is a place of beauty, and it is a place of wonder,” Ueber said. 

Coast Guard officials estimated about 30,000 gallons are still inside the wreck, but are sealed off and “unlikely” to leak out again. 

Bay Area officials present  

Olympic transportation plan 

SAN JOSE –Bay Area transportation officials today presented their plan for transporting the athletes and spectators around the region if San Francisco is chosen to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. 

The U.S. Olympic Committee is scheduled to choose either San Francisco or New York City as the U.S. candidate city for the 2012 games in early November. 

“We're just four weeks away from the U.S. candidate city election in Colorado Springs,” Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee President Anne Cribbs said at a briefing in San Jose this morning.  

Cribbs said that traffic impact is a prime concern of local residents. 

“The number one question I always get asked about the 2012 Olympics and the bid is what about the traffic,” according to Cribbs. 

The Bay Area is actually in better shape that several cities that have recently hosted the games when it comes to available mass transit. 

“We, right now, have more rail capacity than many of the recent Olympic cities: Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney,” Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger said. 

The transportation plan for the Olympics includes using existing and planned mass transit systems such as CalTrain and BART and dedicating the Bay Area's carpool lanes for transporting Olympic athletes and officials.  

Atlanta transported its athletes and officials in a similar fashion. 

“We didn't need to worry about one more thing, jumping on a subway and getting to our competition and our practices on time,” 1996 synchronized swimming gold medallist Nathalie Bartleson said. 

Spectators will be transported to the Olympic events almost exclusively on public transportation under the BASOC plan. 

“The spectators will arrive on public transportation for the simple reason that we're not going to give them any parking. We're going to use the Pacific Ball Park model,” Heminger said. 

After the U.S. Olympic Committee chooses the U.S. candidate city, the International Olympic Committee will select the host city in 2005.