United States Coast Guard and San Francisco Department of Public Health Issue Updates on Bay Bridge Container Ship Accident

San Francisco, CA — At 8:30 a.m. a container vessel, COSCO BUSAN, accidentally hit the D span of the Bay Bridge. The vessel, out bound at the time of the accident with a pilot onboard, reported damage to the forward left side causing heavy duty bunker fuel (IFO380) to spill into the San Francisco Bay. Fuel was transferred from the compromised tanks to stop the leaking and clean up actions were immediately initiated to begin the removal of fuel from the San Francisco Bay. CALTRANS has confirmed there is no structural damage to the SF Bay Bridge.

Public Health Officials reported that people on port property near the spill experienced headaches and nausea due to the oil vaporizing into the air. While this type of exposure is noxious, breathing oil fumes is not associated with long term health effects. “If you cannot smell the oil, you are not breathing it,” noted Mitch Katz, MD, Director of San Francisco Department of Public Health.

In terms of the water, the Port is posting signs in multiple languages directing people to not fish off key locations on Port property. Based on the progress of the clean up and the movement of the spilled oil, the Department of Public Health will advise people later today or tomorrow if it becomes unsafe to swim and if the beaches will be closed. Swim clubs in the area have been notified and some reports of oil blobs in the Aquatic Park area have been received.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management Board is actively participating in safety monitoring and will perform sampling of air along port property. Ferry schedules have not been interrupted because the spill did not pose risks to passengers or crews.

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has ordered the vessel to Anchorage 9. The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead agency for both monitoring and clean up of the spill. A Unified Command has been set up with the US Coast Guard, California Fish and Game Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and the O’Brien’s Group (contracted by the responsible party). Pollution investigators and marine inspectors from the U.S. Coast Guard are continuing their investigation into the amount of the fuel and the cause of the accident. Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, the City and County of San Francisco, California Fish & Game, National Marine Sanctuary, US Fish & Wildlife, Department of Emergency Management, Treasure Island Development and the Bay Area Air Quality Control Board will be watching the situation closely and will put out an advisory as the situation changes.

The public is asked to report any injured and/or oiled wildlife and not to approach or handle as there may be safety concerns. Oiled Wildlife Reporting Hotline: 877-823-6926

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.