A criminal probe into the oil spill off San Francisco was launched yesterday as federal investigators began to question the crew of the Hong Kong ship that hemorrhaged 58,000 gallons of fuel oil after crashing into the Bay Bridge last week. The Coast Guard contacted the US attorney's office after uncovering management and communication problems on board, according to an official who did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, the head of the Coast Guard, which was criticized for its slow response to the disaster, cited dense fog and damage to fuel-measuring instruments for the lag. Sen. Dianne Feinstein countered that factors such as weather "should not excuse this." The spill fouled miles of coastline, killed birds and closed dozens of beaches.