Oil spill smaller than 2007 incident 

An oil tanker Friday morning spilled “less than a few thousand gallons” of fuel into the Bay, rather than the 100-gallon figure reported by officials earlier in the morning, Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

The spill, which has produced a 1-mile-long sheen on the Bay, was reported at 6:48 a.m. from a vessel anchored at Anchorage Nine, located about 2.5 miles southeast of the Bay Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

A Panamanian-flagged tanker, named Dubai Star, was reportedly fueling up when one of its fuel lines ruptured, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard vessels are assessing the spill, hoping to come up with a more exact amount of oil that has leaked into the Bay. A 100-yard security zone has been established around the vessel and spill site, the Coast Guard said in the statement.

Spill recovery crews are on scene, officials said. Booms have been ordered to protect coastlines around Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island as a precaution. Weather patterns show that heavy winds may push oil-slicked water toward those coastlines, Newsom said.

At a noon press conference at City Hall, Newsom assured that the incident would not achieve the magnitude of the 2007 spill caused by the Cosco Busan, which dumped around 53,000 gallons into Bay waters and led to a prison sentence for the ship’s captain.

“It’s difficult to measure at this state,” Newsom said. “But this is not of the magnitude by any stretch of the imagination of the 2007 incident.”

Response to the spill is leagues more coordinated than it was in 2007, Newsom said. Following the Cosco Busan incident, city, state and government agencies were criticized for failing to work together.

San Francisco officials had been “isolated” from other government agencies, which led to “spotty information” about the spill’s impact, said Rob Dudgeon of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

This time, San Francisco officials are responding to the spill before oil has reached city coastlines, said Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco.

City agencies are combining efforts at the Coast Guard’s command center in Alameda, officials said.

“As you may recall with the Cosco Busan, we learned about the oil spill when the oil arrived at the Port of San Francisco,” Moyer said.

Moyer said The City has been able to use Homeland Security funding received in the last two years to protect San Francisco’s coasts. Port officials are monitoring Mission Creek, Pier 94 wetlands, the sea lion sanctuary at Pier 39 and the historic vessels at Pier 45, among other locations.

The current response “does not allow for the kind of finger-pointing that happened back in November 2007,” Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said.

Last year, Leno authored legislation to create a spill prevention and cleanup grant to purchase new spill response technology. The bill was vetoed.

“I’m going to go back and take a closer look at those veto messages,” Leno joked.

Newsom said city officials are also keeping early tabs regarding the cost of the oil spill, including damage and cleanup, so that San Francisco is fully reimbursed.

The 50,562-deadweight ton, double-hulled Dubai Star is operated by closely held Heidmar Inc., based in Norwalk, Connecticut, which owns a fleet of tankers. The 600-foot long vessel can transport fuel on medium-range journeys such as from Venezuela to North America, or the Caribbean to San Francisco, Michael Hanson, a spokesman for Heidmar, told Bloomberg in an interview.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
 

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