Bill to lower oil spill response times passes Assembly

A bill passed the California State Assembly on Tuesday that lowers the allowable response time to an oil spill in San Francisco Bay from six hours to two hours.

Senate Bill 1056, authored by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco/North Bay, is a legislative response to what she said she believes was a slow response to the Cosco Busan oil spill in November.

The Nov. 7 incident, in which a container ship struck a tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, spilled about 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay, harming wildlife and filling Bay Area beaches and waters with oil.

The bill states that the allowable response time for future oil spills in the San Francisco Bay will be reduced from six hours to no more than two hours. Migden said the change is necessary to combat the bay's natural tidal action, which quickly spreads spills.

“This is an important first step in successfully responding to future oil spills,” Migden said in a prepared statement. “The tragedy of the Cosco Busan is that a series of communications errors led to irreparable environmental damage because response efforts were delayed too long to recapture the oil.”

The bill passed the Assembly by a 49-22 vote, and will return to the Senate for a final vote to approve amendments taken in the Assembly. Bay City News

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