Supervisor slams response to oil spill

The City’s response to the Cosco Busan oil spill went according to plan despite the misinformation from the U.S. Coast Guard, officials defending their actions testified Monday.

Despite jurisdictional boundaries that kept city officials in charge of response lacking information during the first hours after the spill, appropriate resources were used and The City’s voice ultimately was heard during the massive response to the spill, according to City Department of Emergency Management, Mayor’s Office and Fire Department officials testifying before the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee.

Committee Chair Ross Mirkarimi hammered away at The City’s response to the spill, calling it “flawed” and a “failure” considering all the training and partnership The City has participated in planning for such disasters, particularly when it came to public notification.

Mirkarimi said there was no response — such as using city boats for reconnaissance — when initial reports had 140 gallons of oil in the Bay after the 900-footcontainer ship Cosco Busan clipped the base of a Bay Bridge tower Nov. 7.

The resulting gash in the port side of the ship allowed 58,000 gallons of fuel to spill into the Bay, but The City, through a variety of miscommunications, was not alerted to the size of the spill until more than 12 hours after the accident.

“In this particular case [the plan] failed,” Mirkarimi said. “I think it failed miserably.”

The response to the spill has come under scrutiny from all levels of government — federal, state and local — and officials are reviewing the oil spill response plans for any appropriate changes that should be made in the wake of this disaster.

“We followed the plan: the plan as it was written both locally, state and federally,” said Laura Phillips, director of the city’s Department of Emergency Management. “If the plan is flawed then yes, we go back and look at that plan.”

“The event showed us we need to go back and look at it collaboratively” with the U.S. Coast Guard and state officials, she said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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