Legislative Leaders Announce Oil Spill Response

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday December 07, 2007

As the City of Berkeley entered its fourth week under a state of emergency, State Assembly Legislative leaders un-veiled a bill package in response to last month’s massive oil spill from the Cosco Busan crash in the San Francisco Bay. 

It included proposals addressing shipping safety, spill containment standards, communications between agencies and communities, clean-up responses and on-going monitoring of the bay. 

Legislators also called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create an independent commission to “review the oil spill and recommend additional reforms to improve spill prevention and response policies.”  

Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, Berkeley’s public information officer, told the Planet Thursday that the prohibitions imposed by City Manager Phil Kamlarz—including staying 50 feet away from the shoreline—were still in place. 

“The re-ratification of the state of emergency will be on the City Council’s agenda for Tuesday, so yes, we’re continuing it until at least then,” she said, adding that small boats were now being allowed to sail in the bay. 

“There were some contractors cleaning around the boat launch earlier today, but I would imagine it would hard to clean during the weather that’s expected for the next couple of days.” 

Berkeley Animal Care Services is currently serving as the drop-off point for sick birds in the East Bay. 

“The bird rescue group comes and collects from us when we call them,” Clunies-Ross said. “We’ve had about six to 10 dead ones and a couple of live ones in the last ten days or so.” 

More than 2,700 birds were injured or killed in the aftermath of the spill, which spread from the East Bay to San Francisco to the Gulf of Farallones and eventually as far south as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

The federal government sued Cosco Busan owners Regal Stone Ltd. of Hong Kong; the company’s insurer, Shipowners’ Insurance & Guaranty Co.; and ship’s pilot John Cota Friday, seeking compensation for clean-up costs and the harm caused to natural resources from the 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel.