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COSCO BUSAN SCAT TEAM - RWC FINAL PHASE

COSCO BUSAN SCAT TEAM-Final Phase

(Shoreline Cleanup And Assessment Team used Personal Watercraft during Final Survey)

by Shawn Alladio

Circa 2008




Approximately 58,000 gallons of oil was spilled into the San Francisco Bay when the tanker Cosco Busan hit a protective bumper around a support tower on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The ship was departing from Oakland toward open water, in fog conditions when it clipped the bridge support.



The tidal flow from the San Francisco Bay drew oil outwards to the surrounding beaches, many birds were and marine life was impacted, private and commercial vessels were damaged, fisheries were closed, and beaches were shut down



Members of the public without proper training were recommended not attempt to collect the oil or oil contaminated debris, since it needs to be disposed of properly to prevent broader contamination and exposure to the oil can be hazardous to our health.

The San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services was called upon the final phase of the SCAT team cleanup in the near shore areas of San Mateo County, the target zone was inacessible from either foot or helicopter. Personal Watercraft were decided to be the only vessel type that could access the near shore cliff areas and rock outcroppings to check for oil residue.



I attended the SCAT team review with the Pillar Point Harbor Department, State Parks, the city of Pacifica, OES of San Mateo and the instructors from Polaris. We were given field books and the open discussion provided the platform for the Harbor District our of Pillar Point under the guidance of Cary Smith to conduct the shoreline field survey. This would be one of the final phases of the Cosco Busan cleanup.



It was determined that the safest method to approach these often rocky and dangerous inshore sections woudl best be conducted with the use of Personal Watercraft (PWC). They have proven themselves repeated to be the best rescue boat, especially at Mavericks the large big wave break which is namesake to Pillar Point, and created no impact with the environment and were the most capabilty vessel for this type of mission. All agreed in the meeting this method of operation would prove best for the needs of the oil spill response.

I looked around the room and counted 7 people in attendance during the SCAT meeting that were K38 trained. The Mayor of Pacifica had asked for K38 support, as well as the Harbor District, since liability issues were a part of the safety of the team, and practically everyone was K38 certified, not to mention Cary is a lead K38 instructor, it was like a family reunion.

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The survey needed to be completed by mid January. Pillar Point Harbormaster Dan Temko, handed the project over to Cary after the decision was made how to approach the inshore zones, such as the famous Devil's Slide area. Cary was looking for calm seas and even tides to access these remote areas.



K38 Instructor Steve Nichols and Aaron Bierman were able to return for the January targeted date. The Pillar Point harbor deployed their patrol vessel and the PWC operators transferred the swimmers to shore on the rescue boards, so they could walk the beach and investigate if there were any lingering oil clumps or staining. 

They also surveyed the cliff and rock outcroppings and mapped their progress on GPS coordinates.Special thanks goes to Pillar Point Harbor Department, our K38 students for their ongoing professionalism, Steve Nicols and Aaron Bierman, and Cary Smith.



The following tips for oil contact were provided by Cosco Busan Unified Command:

- Avoid direct skin contact with the oil.

- If you get oil or tar balls on your skin, wash it off with soap and water.

- Take precautions, such as washing your hands before eating, so you don't accidentally swallow the oil.

- If you get oil on clothing, wash it in the usual way.

- There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing, and the use of such materials is discouraged.

- Don't burn trash or driftwood contaminated with oil.

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