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Oil & sewage spills, toxic chemical spills: Did we ever have control?

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 at 7:41 am in Chemical spills, Oil Spills, Sewage spills.

50,000-plus gallons of toxic fuel oil is dumped into S.F. Bay after a ship hits the Bay Bridge on Nov. 7 … 5 million-plus gallons of sewage is spilled in Southern Marin on Jan. 25 and Jan. 31 … 1,500 gallons of raw sewage is spilled at Marin’s San Quentin Prison on Feb. 14 … 250 gallons of raw sewage spilled in North Marin on Feb. 18 … 6,000 gallons of raw sewage and storm water spilled in San Rafael on Feb. 24 …

And now thousands of gallons of the toxic and carcinogenic chemical toluene were spilled in Richmond sometime between Friday night and Monday morning. And they don’t even know for sure when the stupid spill happened!

The fumes were so powerful that according to the Associated Press, “a shelter-in-place warning was briefly issued to 1,500 homes near the spill area Monday afternoon after the spill was reported.”

And these are just the spills that get publicized and that we know about. And they all have had and will have dire effects on humans and wildlife.

With the many, many, many, many local, state and federal organizations that are supposed to be in charge of preventing dangerous oil, sewage, chemical and who-knows-what-other-kinds-of spills — why don’t they have a better handle on these frequent messes?

Here are excerpts from a story filed by Bay City News Service at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday:
“ … The response to the spill, however, was marred by delayed and inaccurate reporting by Reaction Products Co., Inc. Owner Dwight Merrill, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said at a news conference at the spill site this (Tuesday) morning.

“Merrill allegedly discovered the spill at 8:15 a.m. Monday, but didn’t report it until 10:39 a.m., and when he did, he allegedly told officials that 500 gallons of mineral spirits had spilled and that he had hired a contractor to clean it up, Gagan said.

“Merrill notified the Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials program at 10:45 a.m., but he was still claiming that the spill was 500 gallons of mineral spirits. He told county officials that he had the spill contained and declined county assistance, according to Gagan.

“Personnel from the contract company, Clean Harbors Environmental Services, realized that the material spilled was not mineral spirits and notified the U.S. Coast Guard at 11:09 a.m., according to Coast Guard officials.

“Meanwhile, residents of Parchester Village were breathing the chemical fumes, which smell like a combination of rubber cement glue and spray paint and are believed to be carcinogenic, and the product was making its way into sensitive habitat and toward the Bay. … “


How many small, medium and large spills do we have just in the San Francisco Bay Area every year?

When are we going to start preventing them from happening? /Gary

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