Armies of volunteer workers are fighting to stem waves of thick, black oil which is invading beaches in San Francisco Bay.
Armies of volunteer workers are fighting to stem waves of thick, black oil which is invading beaches in San Francisco Bay. The oil, which was spilled from two Standard Oil tankers following a collision in dense fog, is described as the worst oil spill in San Francisco Bay history.
A Coast guard probe into the collision was delayed when attorneys for conservationists sought to join the investigation. Attorneys representing the Sierra Club and the Save San Francisco Bay Association contended that the oil spill was a "major catastrophe" and that public interest should be represented at the hearing, scheduled for a 9.30am start on Wednesday (January 20). The hearing was recessed indefinitely.
The bands of oil-slick fighters piled heaps of straw along oil soaked beaches and, when the goo had been absorbed into the bundles, raked and shovelled the glutinous mess into waiting trucks. The work was hard, dirty and tiring, but it went on throughout the night.
Many of the volunteers were genuine conservationists. Others were just anxious to keep their beaches fit and clean as playgrounds for fun in the sun. It made little difference what the motives were - they worked tirelessly, sometimes winning, sometimes losing their battle against the smelly, black invasion.
Coastguards estimated that almost two-million gallons of oil were spilled into the Bay when the ships collided on Monday (January 18). The volunteers are supplementing a force of at about 1,000 men brought in by the Standard Oil Company of California.
A news conference held by various conservation and ecological groups reported that about 2,000 oil-covered sea birds have been covered from beaches and taken to treatment centres. Hopes for their survival were slim. The number of affected birds is increasing each day as the tide washes in more oil and with it, dead and dying birds.
One of the places where conservationists put up the strongest fight against the encroaching oil was at Bolinas Lagoon, feeding ground of the major Pacific coast nesting colony of the Great Blue Heron and White Egret. They threw a hastily constructed barrier of booms and oil-absorbing straw across the mouth of the Lagoon.
The boom was eventually breached and oil was reported to be seeping in. Still the battle continues with reports that there are still huge oil-slicks being washed in and out on every tide.