The American Speaker of the House of Representatives has announced she will request a new investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security into the November 7th oil spill in San Francisco Bay.
Central to the investigation will be the questionable Coast Guard response. “One way or another soonner or later, we will get to the bottom of this,” she said.
Early on 7th November, the Cosco Busan container ship hit one of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s support towers in thick fog, dumping about 58,000 gallons of oil into the bay. For hours afterward, San Francisco and other local officials were told that only about 140 gallons had been released. The spill would eventually shut more than two dozen beaches, fouling more than 40 miles of shoreline and killing at least 1,000 birds.
Pelosi spoke at a public hearing on the spill sponsored by the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Debbie Hersman, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told the hearing that the agency’s investigation will take a year to complete.
For much of the three-hour hearing, Bay Area members of congress blasted the Coast Guard for waiting more than four hours before notifying the public and San Francisco officials of the scope and size of the spill, along with refusing help from San Francisco fire crews, fishermen volunteering boats, and more than 1,000 members of the public who offered to help clean beaches but were initially turned away.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, said it did not augur well for larger disasters in an age of terrorism. “What if this had been some other type of event – bad as an oil spill is – like a homeland security event?”