Monday, December 22, 2008

Remembering the Cosco Busan

by Amy Alton, Communications Associate

Originally posted on November 7, 2008

Today marks the one year anniversary of the November 2007 Cosco Busan Oil Spill. It's hard to believe a year has passed since the 900-foot cargo ship left the Port of Oakland in heavy fog only to run into one of the towers of the Bay Bridge. The ship spewed more than 50,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the Bay and fouled 56 miles of shoreline, killing 3,000 birds. Bay Area residents will never forget the images of birds and wildlife coated in oil and our beaches covered with thick, black sludge. It was a tragedy for our Bay.

Even so, the outpouring of public concern and support following the spill proved how much the community loves our Bay. Our quality of life and economy depend on a healthy Bay and it defines our region. And the community knew that.

At Save The Bay, the mood of our staff varied from sadness and anger to motivation and inspiration. In the wake of the spill, we realized it was more important than ever to strengthen the health of the Bay and to provide wildlife with increased habitat for greater survival during emergencies. Today, we continue to work toward our goal of restoring 100,000 acres of healthy wetlands around the Bay and will plant 20,000 native seedlings along the shoreline this winter.

In direct response to the oil spill, Save The Bay did the following:

      --demanded a full investigation into the accident and reparation for the damage

      --testified to Congress and advised policymakers how to restore the Bay’s health 

      --provided expertise and support on state and federal legislation to protect the Bay against future spills 

      --provided accurate, timely spill information for volunteers, the news media, and elected officials

      --helped wildlife agencies document the oil’s impacts and submitted over 180 photos to Natural Resource Damage Assessment teams

      --noted impacts to sensitive eelgrass and oyster beds

      --educated thousands of students and adults about the impact of oil spills 

      --enlisted community volunteers to clean up the shoreline and restore wetlands

Chillingly, this was only a modest spill, so it serves as a wake-up call to improve vessel security, ship traffic control, hazardous material handling, spill prevention and response and volunteer coordination. There is nothing more frustrating than having an army of able-bodied volunteers and not being able to use them.

Governor Schwarzenegger did sign several bills to increase oversight of Bay ship pilots, train emergency responders, and improve communications when oil spills occur. But the Governor DID NOT DO ENOUGH to protect the Bay. He vetoed bills that would have required faster response, more pre-positioned equipment, and new cleanup technologies.

In truth, the Bay is under assault every day from runoff pollution and it can take years for ecosystems to recover from spills of this magnitude.  But to help ensure a faster recovery for the Bay, you can do the following:

      --Volunteer to help restore Bay habitat. 

      --Make simple lifestyle changesto reduce runoff pollution. 

      --Sign up for our Bay Savers Email Action Network and we’ll alert you when we need your help on important policy efforts.



No comments: