Beaches deemed safe for holiday weekend

Fuel from the Cosco Busan on Wednesday continued to ride high tides and invade coastlines around San Francisco, but authorities ruled Aquatic Park, Stinson Beach and Rodeo Beach safe and opened them in time for the sunny Thanksgiving weekend.

Thousands of workers and volunteers have painstakingly collected fuel from area coastlines since the container ship’s Nov. 7 scrape with the Bay Bridge, which resulted in the spilling of 58,000 gallons of shipping fuel into the Bay. Growing high tides this week have washed oil off piers and marinas, and on to some areas that had already been cleaned.

Oil marred San Francisco beaches Wednesday, although it’s not always easy to see, said Barbara Brodsky, a trained volunteer beach cleaner who is also helping the Audubon Society ferry oiled birds to rescue centers.

“Once the tar gets what’s known as weathered, or if it gets stepped on, it gets inundated with sand,” Brodsky said. “It’s not as obvious as a tarball.”

Oil built up on Baker Beach on Wednesday, she said.

“It wasn’t supposedly that bad yesterday,” Brodsky said Wednesday afternoon. “But it’s really bad today.”

The state official leading state cleanup efforts, Rob Roberts of the California Department of Fish and Game, said the “particleized” oil on the beaches is not dangerous.

“The only danger is you get your feet dirty,” Roberts said. “It’s really hard to clean off.”

Unusually high tides will grow until the end of the weekend, tide charts show.

“If there is oil brought in because of the high tides,” Golden Gate National Recreational Area spokesman Rich Weideman said, “we could have to temporarily close beaches.”

The U.S. Coast Guard was ready to tackle the oil carried to shorelines by high tides, according to spokesman Michael Anderson.

“We have snares in place and we have teams on standby,” he said. Snares look like giant pompoms, he said, and they’re strategically placed in the water to catch oil.

Two types of chemicals that lift stubborn fuel off rocks, piers and vegetation were tested at the Berkeley Marina on Wednesday, as cleanup operations became “more minute,” Anderson said. “They’re looking at how it interacts with the Bay environment.”

The water at Aquatic Park contains safe levels of diesel, oil and volatile organic compounds, according to water test results released Wednesday by The City’s Public Utilities Commission. The water samples were collected Monday morning.

OPEN BEACHES

Area beaches that were opened Wednesday:

» Aquatic Park in San Francisco

» Rodeo Beach in Marin County

» Stinson Beach in Marin County

Area beaches that remained closed Wednesday

» Albany Beach in Alameda County

» Angel Island in San Francisco

» Wildcat Beach in Marin County

» Some shoreline around the city of Richmond

Source: Point Reyes Seashore-National Parks Service, GGNRA, California Department of Parks and Recreation, city of Albany, city of Richmond

jupton@examiner.com  

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