San Francisco Bay Spill | Delayed Response Worsens Impact

sanfrancisco oil spill 01 San Francisco Bay Spill | Delayed Response Worsens Impact

The most chilling part of what occurred on November 7th in the San Francisco Bay is not so much the accident itself human error is inevitable to a certain degree but the slow response to the accident that, according to an article on, will result in most of the 58,000 gallons of spilled oil being absorbed into the ecosystem. Shouldn’t previous oil catastrophes (Exxon Valdez, anyone?) have taught us to treat each of these as worst case scenarios? Must we wait for the inevitable before putting into place a real, actionable plan?

While the Coast Guard maintains that their response was immediate 30 minutes after the distress call – they did acknowledge some “miscommunication” with local officials, but said this didn’t interfere with relief efforts. However, the article points out that the much-needed oil-skimming vehicles did not show up until 90 minutes after the call, allowing many more thousands of gallons of oil to do their damage.

sanfrancisco oil spill 03 San Francisco Bay Spill | Delayed Response Worsens Impact

While much of the fuel was expected to dissolve into the water, the oil that remained was causing major problems for Bay Area birds.

On top of that, it seems fishy that Coast Guard logs initially recorded the spill to have been only 400 gallons – a figure that was mysteriously “updated” the following day to a whopping 58,000.

If the Coast Guard is covering up for blunders by doctoring logs, what lesson can be learned from this experience? The agencies involved should be open about their actions on that day — not to be left open for blame, but in the hopes of preventing losses of such magnitude the next time such an event happens.

Being transparent allows us to learn from our mistakes and move forward. Otherwise, this horrible accident has served no purpose. Let it not be futile.

For updated information on the spill, click here.

sanfrancisco oil spill 02 San Francisco Bay Spill | Delayed Response Worsens Impact

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