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Opinion: Shouldn’t We Be Part of the Cleanup?

The past week has been a heart-breaker for all of those Alameda and East Bay residents who love their beaches, their birds and their environment.

For those of us who may have casually wondered before what an oil spill would look like, we unfortunately got our answer.

The U.S. Coast Guard in cooperation with state and county agencies was in charge.

The “guilty party,” meaning the owner of the Dubai Star, outsourced the cleanup. And these outsourced cleaners outsourced much of the hands-on cleanup work on Alameda’s beaches and shoreline.

While it’s true that many local bird-watchers got indirectly involved by staying in touch with wildlife officials and volunteer organizations, there was no real direct work for those Alamedans who care deeply about the local environment and who want to act when they see the environment being devastated.

Certainly, the oil spill was considered hazardous, and the mess that showed up on the Alameda shoreline was toxic.

Still, residents are asking, “Why couldn’t we help?”

Over the next few weeks, that question will be put to local, state and other officials.

It seems that those who most care about their own environment and its impact should be able to have an important role in how it is cared for, especially after a trajedy such as the Dubai Star oil spill.

Such a role needs to be carefully crafted in advance, so that damage to Alameda can be further minimized in the future. It’s worth exploring — not just for the nearly 40 birds that were rescued and lived, or for the 24 birds that have died, but for all the wildlife that’s been affected and the thousands of us who want the environment — our environment — to be protected from such preventable destruction.

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Boat Movement Restricted Due to Bay Oil Spill; News of Sunken Sailboat during Baja Ha-Ha

This week has been as colorful for the Bay as the sunset picture taken at Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda today at 6:48 p.m.

The birds were feeding nicely, and no oil had appeared, fortunately.

Exactly 12 hours earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard got news that the tanker Dubai Star had suffered a rupture in a fuel lines and released an unknown amount of fuel into San Francisco Bay about 2.5 miles south of the Bay Bridge.

Some 11,000 feet of boom was deployed to contain the spill more than three hours later. And the Coast Guard says that the no more fuel is leaking into the Bay.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to conduct wildlife search and reconnaissance operations. So far, there have been no reports of oiled wildlife, and volunteers have not been called into action yet.

Alameda residents active in the Bay Farm Nature Connection plan to volunteer as the need arises.

The public is asked to not attempt to rescue oiled wildlife, the Coast Guard says, as this may cause injury to both the individual and the animal. Instead the public should report sightings of oiled wildlife to 1-877-823-6926.

However, according to the Coast Guard, “Oil trajectory models predict potential shoreline impacts tonight starting this evening at North Alameda Island, Bay Farm Island, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.”

Also, the Coast Guard is limiting the movement of boats in the Oakland Estuary, the Oakland Bar Channel and within the spill area.

We will continue to monitor this situation.

And in news about 700 miles south of the Bay, a boat owned by the J/World Sailing School is reported to have sunk after leaving San Diego and encountering a pod of whales.

J/World, which has facilities in Marina Village, participated in this year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally. The annual event includes about 200 sailboats this year – many from Alameda — traveling from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas from October 26-November 6.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that five people in a life raft had been rescued. And the sailing monthly Latitude 38 , which organizes the Baja Ha-Ha, says skipper Eugenie Russell and four crew members may have had only five minutes to get into the raft.

J/World opened its office in Alameda in 2002.