Friday, November 16, 2007
Originally uploaded by Omega it's jameth First of all, Biggest Room blog will probably not be updated again until Dec. 4 or so. We're going to Vietnam for some R&R. We'll be trekking to remote villages near the border with China, trading San Francisco post cards and toy cable cars for textiles and crafts or something.
The cleanup is continuing and beginning to show some success.
Jim over at SFist writes an excellent report about the training on Nov 14 in Golden Gate Park. Here are more pics.
The word came out this afternoon that the oil skimming operations have ended. All beaches in San Mateo county, including popular surf spot Linda Mar are now open.
Also opened: Steep Ravine beach up in Marin.
There are more volunteer cleanup trainings this weekend. It looks like Angel Island, Baker Beach and China Beach need a lot of cleaning. Marin County will still not let you clean it's badly greased-up beaches. Tell them to get with the program and let volunteers work in Marin.
Our eternal after-work drinking establishment, Doc's Clock is holding a fundraiser for Baykeeper tonight (Friday). Just head over and order a fancy beer (Radeberger, Chimay Blue, Anchor Liberty) and they'll donate the money you spend to Baykeeper.
Keep cleaning everyone, like our Mayor, I'm going on vacation. Have a great Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This just in.
A letter was sent yesterday to Senator Carole Migden and Assemblymember Fiona Ma explaining that the company Marine Spill Response Corporation had severe staff and budget shortages and was incapable of containing the spill in the first hours of the accident. This is contrary to what the company has been saying to elected officials and to the press.
Here's the content of the letter:
November 13, 2007
Dear members of the Legislature:
We are employees of the Marine Spill Response Corporation who are extremely concerned about the oil spill last week in San Francisco Bay. Right now we’re doing everything we can to help with the clean-up. We’re putting in long hours and working hard, so we can’t attend any public hearings at this time.
But we would like to share some concerns about the clean-up operation, and we want the public to know the truth behind some of the claims that have been made by both industry and public officials.
Contrary to what you’ve been told, there were not enough dedicated, qualified responders in the Bay Area available to help with the clean-up and recovery efforts immediately following the incident when we had the best chance of containing the spill and recovering the oil.
The failure to have enough qualified responders stationed in the Bay Area at the time of the spill means that most of the oil was already dispersed over a large area before enough trained, dedicated responders were assembled and operating equipment. Rapid response to an oil spill is especially critical in San Francisco Bay because powerful tides and strong currents make it absolutely essential to respond very quickly with sufficient staff and resources.
The truth is that industry officials have been understaffing their dedicated spill response operations in the Bay Area and elsewhere – because there are no rules to prevent them from doing so. Officials defend their irresponsible staffing levels by claiming that they use a “cascading system” to shift resources when an emergency strikes. But the fact is that “cascading” resources only works beyond a certain point, to supplement sufficient resources when a disaster happens. Until now, the number of dedicated responders has been insufficient. As a result, we lost precious time during the early and most important phase of the clean-up. Cascading on top of insufficient staffing means that we aren’t fully operational for at least 12 and often 24 hours after a major spill – allowing the critical clean up window to close before we have enough dedicated staff to respond.
Imagine what would happen if we staffed fire departments or ambulances in the same manner. It’s one thing to ask other professionals for help during a major crisis – but it’s a completely different matter when you start with inadequate staffing. If we’ve learned anything over the past forty years about responding to oil spills, it is the need to respond quickly with highly trained professionals who can operate best equipment under adverse conditions. Providing anything less is irresponsible and misleading to the public.
Finally, we want to remind you that MSRC and similar organizations are really creatures of the oil industry and giant shipping companies. That’s where most of their funding comes from, and that’s who calls the shots. The oil and shipping companies have plenty of money to pay for more dedicated response staff in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and they can afford to provide better pay and benefits to reduce the turnover and increase our professionalism. Holding the oil and shipping companies accountable to the public is difficult – but it has to be done if we expect a better response when the next disaster happens. We consider ourselves professionals. We’re proud of the work we do, but we need your help – and more dedicated staff – so we can do the best job of serving the public and protecting the environment.
The EPA and California's Department of Fish and Game got the message.
Volunteers are being offered a course in clean-up safety and sent out to help clean up. The 24 hour course to become a Disaster Service Worker (DSW) has been condensed to 4 hours. The volunteers are given a photo id, provided hazmat gear and are able to help provided someone with the full certification is there to supervise. Official volunteer teams in San Francisco and Berkeley have already been out mopping up.
Another guerrilla clean-up crew has been out mopping with hair, that will be later planted with straw and oyster mushrooms. After 12 weeks, the mess is turned into organic mulch. Instead of arresting them, the EPA trained the guerrilla crew to be DSWs and gave them more mats of hair that they had in storage. Cole Hardware in San Francisco is offering discounts to purchase the white hazmat Tyvex suits.
There are other volunteers working with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. As of yesterday there were 465 live oiled birds found and 196 dead one. (update - Nov 14th numbers are 804 live birds, 244 have been cleaned, 590 bird have died).
All commercial crab and fishing has been banned until further notice.
The mayor of San Francisco got back to work yesterday after a Hawaii vacation. Biggest Room obtained a memo sent to elected officials yesterday. If the city was incapable of coordinating and communicating the situation while the mayor was out, it has certainly been done now that he's back. The highlights of the memo include the formation of the Unified Command, that includes the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Coast Guard and a contractor hired to clean up the mess by the owners of the Cosco Busan. We assume this is Patriot Environmental Services, who Biggest Room saw cleaning up over the weekend.
The memo also lists the official numbers of people involved in San Francisco clean up:
- 7 skimmers cleaning up oil
- 4 vessels at piers
- 49 contractors cleaning at Baker Beach
- 60 contractors cleaning at China Beach
- 52 contractors cleaning at Fort Funston Beach (this is surprisingly far south)
- 50 contractors cleaning at Piers 1 through 29
- 100 volunteers with 20 city workers cleaning at Ocean Beach
- 169 Wildlife teams (98 are volunteers)
- 23 SCAT teams (coast damage assessment teams
San Francisco will hold a volunteer training this evening at 6PM in the County Fair Building at Golden Gate Park. More training sessions will be held this weekend. For more info see www.thevolunteercenter.net/
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
owner -ship owner representative
Originally uploaded by susafri
The oil spill has gone big-time. Even getting into a little bit of national news.
Our Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been in town for photo ops. Senator Barbara Boxer has been sending out letters of concern.
The Coast Guard is in big trouble as they didn't let San Francisco, a city of lawyers, know about the size of the spill for over 12 hours.
The San Francisco Chronicle has unearthed recent piloting errors by the pilot who guiding the Cosco Busan.
More beaches have been closed. As we guessed yesterday, the crab fishermen are indeed worried about the commercial season
We'll be out this weekend taking pictures and helping to clean up.
If people want to clean up, our sources are saying to go to the parking lot in front of Sports Basement in the Presidio with old clothes and dishwashing gloves this weekend. No word on the time but I would say get there early.
No official volunteer effort has been organized, despite the thousands of volunteers who are standing by ready to help out.
Note: I want to give a shout out. The reporters down at the Chronicle are doing an unbelievably great job down there, despite having a skeleton crew due to recent cut-backs. Great work Chron!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
The oil spill is looking pretty bad. Rodeo Beach in Marin county has been hit hard. Wildlife have been injured by the oil. Ocean Beach apparently has oil in the water and The San Francisco Surfrider Foundation is asking surfers to stay out of the water.
If you are out by the bay and ocean today, here are a couple of important phone numbers.
This information was provided by the San Francisco Surfrider Foundation.
If you see oil in the water call:(985)781-0804
If you see wildlife covered with oil call:(877)823-6926
Apparently someone will come out to rescue the animals.
Remember a lot of our wildlife here is big and very wild. Call these numbers before attempting to pick up injured wildlife. They all bite - hard. Even the cute little sea lions.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
In the end the scheme didn't work at all and possible hurt more than helped. The Civil Air Patrol receieved thousands of messages from the internet masses with false positives.
In the end as we know at this point, Steve Fossett's plane was never found, despite a enormous effot. It is likely it will be found by accident in the near future, but probably not how we've been looking so far. Mechanical Turk is a very interesting idea for social networking labor but like almost all other social network efforts out there, the noise level of the internets is probably too loud and undiciplined for such an importent and focused endevour.
R.I.P Steve Fossett.
Wired has a good story about the project as it seems to be complete at this point.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Comet 17P/Holmes 10-28-2007
Originally uploaded by SluggoMPopeye
Comet 17P/Holmes unexpectedly exploded and is providing those of us without fancy telescopes the chance to see it, even under city lights. The comet exploded on Oct. 24th and has been remaining bright in the sky. It's expected to be visible until mid-November. You can find it by looking Northeast just after sunset. If you can find the big dipper and the north star, you should look to the right and begin to see it in the constellation Perseus. Spaceweather.com has a good sky map here..
More info can be found at Skyandtelescope.com