Maintenance crews today began removing damaged sections of the Bay Bridge tower's protective fender that was struck by the container vessel Cosco Busan on Nov. 7, according to bridge officials.
The fender of the bridge's Delta Tower sustained a 70-foot gash when the 900-foot ship crashed into it at around 8:30 a.m., said Lauren Wonder, a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
When the Cosco Busan struck the tower, "the fendering system shattered, which is exactly what it's supposed to do," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Maria Lee said.
"It basically did its job, to protect the tower of the bridge," she said.
Crews have collected about 25 tons of wood and plastic chipped from the tower's fender from Bay waters, said Lee.
Once the damaged sections are removed, the fender will be replaced with steel and plastic lumber, Wonder said. California Engineering Contractors Inc. has been hired to make the repairs.
"The plastic material is made partly from recycled milk cartons," making the fender better for the environment and marine life, Wonder said.
The recycled product used to help construct the fender is part of the bridge's seismic retrofit, Wonder said.
In addition, some of the plastic and steel that broke off in the Cosco Busan crash can be reused in repairing the tower, she said.
The removal of damaged pieces is expected to last until Christmas Day. Then, repairs to the tower will ensue until mid-January, Wonder said.
The collision also dug a hole in the Cosco Busan that leaked an estimated 58,000 gallons of oil into the Bay. The spill killed thousands of birds and shut down commercial fishing in areas in and around the Bay. Some
of the oil was recovered by cleanup crews and the rest either dissipated in the water or evaporated in the air.
A ban on fishing was lifted today, according to the state's Department of Fish and Game.
— Bay City News