Richmond residents expressed concern this week at the failure of state and federal officials to rescue oiled birds from the Rich-mond shoreline.
Angry letters and emails poured into community e-forums as city officials tried to assure residents that they were working to address the problems.
Lisa Owens Viani, a Richmond resident, said that she had spotted only a couple of trained officials on the shoreline between Pt. Isabel and Pt. Richmond last week.
“Why is Richmond always left for last?” her email to Council-member Tom Butt’s e-forum
on Tuesday questioned. “There was one guy from the Oil
Spill Response network and a Contra Costa HazMat team member who helped us with equipment. They told us they weren’t allowed to buy a boat, otherwise they would have been able to put in a deep water boom. With those exceptions, there has been no Coast Guard, no one cleaning the shore except us ... Can you get us some real help, not just guys who stand around in uniform, shooting the breeze?”
The city, which has no jurisdiction or resources to address oil spill cleanup or rescue birds, has participated in the incident command center and monitored the shoreline.
Pt. Richmond was included among the beaches closed to residents by regional authorities.
Community members complained to Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin that volunteers were being turned away from the shoreline, but no alternatives were provided by state and federal authorities to rescue the birds.
“In response to why there are no booms in Marina Bay or Pt. Richmond, the Fish and Game biologist said more than once that they have to make a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ about which areas to protect, and clearly Richmond was not a priority for them,” said Richmond homeowner Tonni Hanna in her e-mail to the mayor. “This does not seem to have to do with a lack of funds, since the governor has allocated unlimited funds to the clean up, but rather a lack of preparedness.”
McLaughlin issued a letter this week urging residents to show up at her office on Friday to discuss the creation of a Richmond Shoreline Defense Corps.
According to the letter, the meeting would be an opportunity to re-group and address volunteer clean up efforts and prepare for future potential environmental disasters.
The meeting will take place at the mayor’s office, 1401 Marina Way South, Richmond, today (Friday) at 10 a.m.
Richmond residents can call the State Office of Emergency Services at 1-800-852-7550 to report oil slicks.
To report oiled or sick birds, call 877-823-6926, 707-207-0380, or 415-453-1000.