Earlier this month, 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel poured into San Francisco Bay when the cargo ship Cosco Busan hit the Bay Bridge. What I want to know is–since the actual amount of oil released in the Bay was relatively small compared to scenarios like Exxon Valdez, why are we witnessing a major environmental disaster?
You see, the real tragedy was twofold… yes, the spill was preventable, but equally troubling, the containment and response efforts were inadequate.
As explained in The San Francisco Chronicle:
The spill could have serious long-term consequences for fish, birds and plant life in and around the bay, said Keren Murphy, a Sierra Club expert on offshore drilling and fishing.
“Oil is extremely toxic to marine life, even at low concentrations or small spills,” Murphy said. “On top of that, in an enclosed bay like San Francisco Bay, the coastal wetlands are particularly vulnerable. The shelter, lagoon and wetlands that are in this bay – this type of oil can persist in the sediment for decades.”
The bunker fuel “could potentially affect the bottom-dwelling organisms, fish, invertebrates, which are food for the larger, charismatic species that we all see,” Murphy said. “It will then affect them.”
Only about 30 percent of birds and mammals exposed to oil spills survive for more than a year, “due to the toxicity of the oil,” Murphy said.
Come on folks, we need to do better…