Sunday, November 11, 2007

S F Oil Spill

Oil spills and Lawyers

This article just irritates the hell out of me. A little background. On Wed. Nov 7 around 8:30 a cargo ship ran into the Bay bridge in San Fransisco. 58000 gallons of bunker fuel were spilled. I've worked with bunker oil in the past and I must say it's not one of my favorite hazardous materials to deal with. Bunker oil is a thick heavy oil that's used as fuel for the ships engines. They use it because it's cheap and it's the bottom of the barrel when oil is processed. Unlike the nice clean oil you put in your car bunker oil smells bad and when you get on your hands and clothing it doesn't come off easily. Even still it's not to be feared and requires little training to be delt with properly. My first oil spill involved about fifteen minutes of training while we loaded the equipment (oil pads, booms and sweeps) necessary for the clean up. The really important issue was getting there asap. Bunker oil will float on water for a while but after a time it sinks to the bottom. It's said that for any given spill the most that can be recovered is about 10 to 15%. The rest sinks or spreads out contaminating the beaches and of course the wildlife.
It would have been easy to have a clean up plan where volunteers could have worked in teams under the direction of an environmental company and haz mat workers. But now 5 days later the damage is far greater than it should have been. It will take decades for the bay to repair itself from the damage done. One method is to use an oil eating bacteria, but as it is referred to in the business as 'spray and pray', well you get the idea.

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