Suspicious substance floating in Bay was nothing more than paint

A large oily mass spotted in the Bay south of San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday night confused and scared Burlingame residents with its dark sheen but turned out to be nothing more than approximately a gallon of red paint.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Alan Haraf said Central County Fire crews found the 30-by-100-foot mass drifting in canal waters off Airport Boulevard shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday. In less than two hours, an inflatable boom had been placed around the oily mass to prevent it from flowing back out to the Bay.

Residents who saw the slick were concerned it was oil from the Nov. 7 Cosco Busan oil spill under the Bay Bridge, though recent Coast Guard reports said that none of the oil spilled from the container ship reached the waters near Burlingame.

Darkness prevented the Coast Guard and a hazardous-materials response team from the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Department from determining what the slick was Wednesday night, but by daylight Thursday, they could see that it was paint, and had been contained by the boom.

Because of low water levels, Haraf said crews planned to wait until the tide came in Thursday night before cleaning up the spill and removing the boom from the water.

San Mateo County Hazardous Materials Response Team Capt. Tom Mote said he believes the paint may have come off of or been spilled from The Sherman, a boat moored in Burlingame waters being restored for use as a restaurant.

“There were red paint cans near the boat and there was red paint in the water,” he said.

jgoldman@examiner.com  

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