Area beaches could be open by weekend

Beaches around San Francisco could open in time for the sunny weekend ahead, and no recoverable globs or sheets of fuel from the Cosco Busan are left on the Bay’s surface, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

More than 25 contaminated beaches around the Bay remained closed Thursday, eight days after the container ship slashed open its hull against the Bay Bridge.

“We are hopeful, with the progress we’re making, that we’ll be able to open some beaches here later on this week,” said Rear Adm. Craig E. Bone, who has been leading local operations. “We don’t have any knowledge of any oil out on the water that’s going to hit the beaches.”

Bone said cleanup operations have moved almost entirely to shorelines, where the ship’s fuel is being scooped out of sand and water-blasted off rocks and piers.

Around 17,000 gallons of the 58,000-gallon spill had been recovered by late Thursday, according to Coast Guard figures, and around 4,000 gallons had evaporated. Bone said some of the remaining fuel has likely floated out to the Pacific Ocean.

As the amount of floating oil on the Bay has fallen, the number of birds affected by the accident has begun to plateau. More than 800 birds had been killed by the fuel by Thursday, and a similar number had been rescued.

“There’s going to be fewer and fewer birds,” said Steve Edinger, who is leading the California Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, repair plans for the 900-foot-long container ship were approved by authorities Thursday, allowing the ship to be moved this afternoon from Anchorage 9, a little more than a mile off Pier 70, to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. A slab of steel will be patched over the 100-foot gash in the ship’s hull.

Jim Lawrence, spokesman for ship owner Regal Stone Ltd., said the ship would be ready after the patch is laid over the hole.

jupton@examiner.com

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