Oil appearing on Bay Area beaches

January 29, 2008 6:54:39 PM PST
The Coast Guard is focusing on cleaning the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and a couple of beaches in Pacifica. They have received reports of oil as far north as Ocean Beach in San Francisco to Carmel Beach in Monterey County.

On hands and knees, clean-up crews meticulously removed small sticky tar balls along Pacifica State Beach. The beach remains closed to the public.

Some combed through the sand, while others dug up the oily debris. The oil washed up following the recent storms.

"Yesterday we had recovered six 5-gallon bags of oily debris and tar balls. It's our goal to maintain these beaches clean, as well as conservation of marine life, as well as marine safety," says Petty Officer Jonathan Ciley, Coast Guard.

There is great concern for the dozens of harbor seals at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, just south of Pacifica. A lot of attention was paid to that area today.

"They generally avoid the oil when they are in the water swimming around, but when they get out and are on the bead they get that stuff on their fur and it's extremely toxic and they can actually poison themselves and make themselves sick," says Bob Breen, retired naturalist.

A Coast Guard helicopter flew over the three mile spill and surveyed the area. There were reports of oil at other beaches north and south of Pacifica.

"We've seen reports that there may some oil further south as far as Monterey. I don't have any personal knowledge of that. We had crews on San Francisco County beaches yesterday and did not see the kind of impact up there that we have seen down here in San Mateo," says Barry McFarland, The O'Brien Group.

The California Department of Fish and Game is setting up an incident command center in Half Moon Bay. Oil samples were taken to a Fish and Game lab in Sacramento for testing, but we still don't know if this oil is from the Cosco Busan or from another source.