Pool Report on Coast Guard Commandant Briefing

The head of the Coast Guard, Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, participated in a 25-minute briefing with a couple-dozen members of the joint command responding to the oil spill, including representatives of various federal, state and local agencies and the city of San Francisco.

Coast Guard Capt. William Uberti, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander Sector San Francisco, ran the briefing.

He took Allen through a brief power point presentation showing maps with areas of the spill highlighted, and pictures of rescue workers, oiled birds and the gashed hull of the Cosco Busan.

One slide showed “key numbers”:

_16 skimmers deployed

_10 wildlife recovery teams on the beaches

_10,500 gallons of fuel product recoverd

_over seven miles of boom placed around to protect beaches and habitat and corral the oil

_More than 900 people from 40 federal, state, local and private agencies involved with response, including 200 trained responders who arrived today (Sunday)

Uberti said he was pleased with the progress of the clean-up. He said the Coast Guard had employed a different strategy than the usual procedure of activating responses in stages.

“What we did here was we said I want everything done at once … recall everyone immediately and get everybody on the ground … it’s dificult to do that but we did it within two days or three or four days,” Uberti said.

Another slide showed key objectives, among them:

“Ensure safety of citizens and response personnel”

“Keep stakeholders and public informed.”

There was discussion of processing volunteers. The response has been more overwhelming than the Coast Guard has been able to handle since they don’t want volunteers without training in hazardous areas.

Uberti said they have a new plan to deal with the volunteers wherein the state provides training and volunteers who already are trained – for example EMT people – can take lead roles. He said the process is getting smoother.

About 20 fishing vessels were deployed today to deploy boom.

“Today we had great success,” said Barry McFarland of O’Brien’s group, the clean-up contractor hired by the responsible party _ Hong Kong-based Regal Stone Ltd., which owns the ship.

“We have found that overflights today have been very tough to find any recoverable skimmable oil,” McFarland said.

Allen said he needed at least a partial answer to one question: “How clean is clean?”

Meaning, he implied, who and how would determine when the clean-up was sufficient.

“We’re negotiating that process right now,” McFarland said, adding that the current focus is on “gross removal.”

Uberti said they wanted to get the beaches usable.

An official with the Fish and Wildlife Service gave Allen updated numbers on birds: 465 live birds collected, 195 dead birds.

He reported on the request by fishermen to delay the dungeness crab season and said a decision was expected on that tonight (Sunday night).

The Fish and Wildlife representative said that 600 vessels are permitted in the Dungeoness fisheries area and there could be problems of economic disadvantage if some opened and some were delayed.

“You’re going to have an issue there,” Allen agreed.

An official from the city of San Francisco said that they’re making progress and overall things didn’t look as bad as initially feared.

Allen asked how many claims were being received from small boat owners docked in marinas around the bay. No one present knew the answer to that.

Uberti said they were making an effort to communicate better with local counties after initial complaints.

Pool report by Erica Werner/AP

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