Slow Response Slammed in SF Bay Oil Disaster

Cleanup lags as contamination sprawls, area residents try to rescue seabirds
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2007 8:17 AM CST
An oil-covered bird takes refuge on shore at Fort Baker near Sausalito, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007. Some 58,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the bay after a container ship hit a tower of the...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 5 more images

(Newser) – As Bay Area residents braved noxious oil to rescue oil-covered seabirds, officials asked why the emergency response to Wednesday's spill had been "unusually slow." The oil slick spread dozens of miles along the San Francisco and Marin coastlines, contaminating beaches and coating marine life, in the hours before the Coast Guard disclosed the scope of the spill, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Residents called the oil-coated birds floundering in the surf "just heartbreaking." Hundreds of birds are injured or dead, and alarmed residents say anemic cleanup efforts didn't begin until late last night. A Coast Guard spokesman explaining the delayed response said rescuers were "kind of busy...figuring this stuff out."