Beach Opens with Tarball Warning

There are no more work crews on Crown  Beach, but there are tarballs — and plenty of warning signs.

Since the October 30 oil spill, large tarballs and oil puddles like the one photographed above, have been cleaned up.

But tarballs the size of a quarter or half dollar are still on the beach. And, according to official warnings  now placed throughout Crown Beach by the East Bay Regional Park District, these tarballs should be with us for a while.

They are what’s left of the oil from the spill that got churned up and moved around the San Francisco Bay. And they may show up for several months – or even years after an oil spill.

The inspection team  “found very few tar balls over the 1.5 mile length of the beach from Grand to Westline,” according to the parks district on November 23.  “In addition, the ponds left at low tide no longer show any significant sheen.”

After the storm on November 20, crews found over 9 pounds of sand-covered tarballs.  The same crews had found over 25 pounds the previous weekend, the park district reports. Today, it found less than half a pound in the 1.5 mile stretch of beach.

Crews will continue to clean the area this week.

Meanwhile, state investigators now say that there was an overflow during the refueling process on the port side of the Dubai Star that led to the spill, not a faulty valve as had originally been discussed. And, workers on the vessel and the refueling barge also say that by the time they realized there was overflow, they didn’t have time to put out a boom to contain the oil spill.

It’s worth pointing out that the spill happened around 6:30 a.m., before sunrise. And that much of the response came only after noon, an issue that state and federal investigators, as well as concerned members of the public, continue to discuss.

The party handling the Dubai Star oil spill, O’Briens Group, says it has spent $7.2 million to clean up the estimated 422 gallons of bunker fuel that was released during the incident.

About 30 birds died from the spill and 30 survived after being cleaned and treated.

Janet Levaux