Alameda Action at City Hall

Several protestors taking a stand against British Petroluem and speaking out in support of Gulf Coast residents, wildlife and communities turned up at City Hall on June 8, election night for several statewide measures, as well as local and statewide primaries.

Many Alameda and Bay Area residents feel a strong sense of solidarity with the Gulf Coast after recent oil spills in San Francisco Bay hurt wildlife and polluted area beaches, including Alameda’s Crown Beach.

Also, for those residents wondering about Measure E results, you will have to hold on another two weeks. June 22 is the official day when the mail-in ballots for the latest Alameda parcel-tax measure are due, and the election period is officially over.

Between now and then, expect the vocal supporters and opponents of Measure E to be out on the streets (or, at least on the lawns with signs) and all over the Internet with their respective messages.  

(Thanks to James Fryer for the image.)


South Crown Beach Inspected, Still Closed

The southern sections of Crown Memorial State Beach remain closed due to environmental damage and hazards from the October 30 oil spill in San Francisco Bay.

Northern sections of the beach reopened on Saturday, November 14, between Crab Cove and Westline Drive.

However, according to the East Bay Regional Parks District, the inspectors found many medium-size tar patties, roughly the size of a quarter to half dollar and large pancake-size ones, too, on Tuesday, November 17.  Thus, the cleanup will continue for the rest of this week and through the weekend.

The good news, according to the park district, is that 2.5 pounds of debris were collected on Monday, November 16, whereas 20 pounds were picked up on Friday, November 13.

A fishing ban is in effect from the northern tip of Alameda Point to the southern tip of Harbor Bay, excluding the San Leandro Channel.


More Oiled Birds Rescued in Harbor Bay

Birds affected by the oil spill are still being rescued by members of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, who on Saturday, November 7, successfully captured an American Coot on Bay Farm Island at about 10 a.m.

On Friday, November 6, 2009, the East Bay Regional Park District opened Encinal Beach near Ballena Bay. Crown Memorial State Beach remains closed, and work crews were out on Saturday cleaning and monitoring the area.

The California Department of Fish and Game continues to ban fishing from Alameda Point at the northwest end of Alameda Island to the southern point of Bay Farm Isle.

The U.S. Coast Guard and others involved in the cleanup says it is likely that the oil that had accumulated at the south end of the beach, near the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, was remobilized by wind and high tide cycles that occurred late last week. As a result, access to the beach and mudflats is prohibited.

Oiled wildlife should be reported to 877-823-6926. Rescued birds that are caught will be cared for at a temporary care facility set up near Crab Cove and then moved to the permanent care center in Cordelia.


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.


Rain May Bring Oil Sheens to Beaches

Changes in the weather today and tomorrow may lead to oil sheens on the Bay, the Coast Guard is announcing.

Alameda residents and visitors who see sheens can call: The National Response Center at 800-424-8802 or the California Emergency Management Agency at 800-852-7550.

While crews are still cleaning the shoreline on Alameda and Bay Farm islands, more birds are being rescued. The total number of birds rescued alive is 45, though 8 have died in captivity and 16 have been recovered dead.

Several hundred workers remain on the scene cleaning hazardous waste from the October 30 oil spill, and the shoreline of both Alameda and Bay Farm islands – including Crab Cove (see photo above) – is closed to swimmers and fisherman. Paths along, but not on the beach, are open to pedestrians and others.


Beaches Still Closed, More Birds Rescued

Some 40 birds have been rescued alive after the October 30 oil spill in the bay, 14 picked up dead and 5 died while in captivity, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Two were picked up early today, treated at a Crab Cove temporary unit (see top photo) and taken to the Bay Area’s Oiled Wildlife Care Center near Fairfield.

No dead fish have been found.

Crown Memorial State Beach, Encinal Beach north of Ballena Bay and Bay Farm Island are still being cleaned and reviewed for impact. And wildlife rescue crews (see bottom photo) remain on patrol.

And on Wednesday the California Department of Fish and Game lifted fishing and shellfish harvesting restrictions on areas around Alameda, including Oakland Middle Harbor north to the Bay Bridge, Oakland Inner Harbor, San Leandro Bay and shoreline areas south of the southern boundary of Oakland Airport to the San Mateo Bridge.

The Alameda shoreline on the Bay remains closed for public-health reasons.


Spill Clean-Up Continues; Small Impact on Marinas

The U.S. Coast Guard says clean-up crews continue to work in several areas of Alameda that have been affected by the October 30 Dubai Star oil spill, while wildlife experts search for and capture any animals impacted by the spill.

Wildlife recovery specialists have recovered 36 live birds affected by the oil and 11 dead oiled birds since Friday. (Two of the 36 live birds died during treatment at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia, Calif.)

The state also has set up a mobile treatment, or stabilization, center in Alameda near Crab Cove.

To report affected wildlife, call 1-877-823-6926.

Clean-up work at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach is about 80 percent finished, while the situation at Ballena Bay and Bay Farm Island is still being assessed.

Crown Memorial Beach, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, remains closed as a result of the spill, and fishing is suspended from the San Mateo Bridge to the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Two-day clean-up efforts at the Ballena Isla Marina in Alameda were completed earlier today, according to marina management. “We didn’t get much of the spill in the marina at all,” said Tim Leathers, Almar Marina’s regional vice president for Northern California. “We’re lucky.”

Ballena Isle, which has more than 300 boats at its slips, said the oil spill affected a dock with about 20 vessels. “There were globs of the bunker fuel, but they were easy to get out of the water,” Leathers said.

A crew hired by O’Brien’s Response Management,  handling the clean-up on behalf of Dubai Star’s owner – South Harmony Shipping, and the contracted cleaners — National Response Corporation – had about 25 individuals in the Ballena Isle Marina on Sunday and Monday, according to Leathers.

“The crews are now working on the west side, or the bay side, of Ballena Bay, and they are using materials to sop up and catch any oil that the wind could push into the area,” Leathers said.

At Marina Village on the Oakland Estuary, none of the oil spill came into the harbor, according to Sheila Maher, assistant harbor master of the Marina Village Yacht Harbor.

The claims number for those affected by the spill is (800) 421-0863.