Public gives input on SF oil spill

January 22, 2008 7:59:49 PM PST
Two months after the Cosco Busan oil spill, it's time to figure out how much the owners of the ship will have to pay. Government agencies are trying to come up with specific projects they want paid for in compensatory damages.

"We have some dune areas that the East Bay Regional Park District is thinking about restoring at some point," says Ann Chaney, Albany Community Development Director.

They came with ideas and wish lists, hoping that one day they will become reality.

"At Ocean Beach, there really are no public showers at the north end of the beach, while there is at the south end. It would be a great improvement to surfers like myself to see some more showers up there," says Chris Princetich, local surfer.

State and federal agencies put this brainstorming session together, hoping to get as many ideas from the public on how the Bay Area should be compensated from the Cosco Busan oil spill.

Since the container ship leaked 58,000 gallons of oil in to San Francisco Bay more than two months ago, roughly 3,000 birds have either died or been injured. Meanwhile, several beaches remain closed, including Albany Beach in the East Bay, where globs of oil are still washing ashore.

There is no way to put an exact dollar figure to the Cosco Busan oil spill and the effect it had on wildlife and people. However, state authorities say restoration projects are an important step in making up for what was lost.

"That's what this whole process is, in a sense, figuring out how many projects, how big the projects should be, so that they're appropriate in size to compensate for the injury," says Steve Hampton, California Department of Fish and Game.

For bird advocates, this is a chance to create a new bird habitat. For municipalities, it's an opportunity to improve shoreline parks. Will it be enough?

"This has been pretty devastating to our community; both in just watching the oiled birds die as well as the loss of our beach area for so many," says Ann Chaney, Albany Community Development Director.

This is just the first of many public meetings to come. The next one is scheduled for next Tuesday in Mill Valley.