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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SAN FRANCISCO BAY: Service Response to Cosco Busan Oil Spill

Region 8, November 16, 2007
USFWS and U.S. Coast Guard conduct airboat survey of the south bay following the oil spill. (Photo: USFWS)
USFWS and U.S. Coast Guard conduct airboat survey of the south bay following the oil spill. (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Alexandra Pitts, R8 External Affairs

On November 7, 2007 the cargo vessel Cosco Busan hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge in heavy fog.  The impact ruptured the hull (~100 ft x 12 ft and 4 ft deep) and spilled approximately 58,000 gallons of medium grade fuel oil.  Most of the oil has spread to central San Francisco Bay and outer coast (North and South of the Golden Gate Bridge).  The spill is not anticipated to make contact with San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) lands in the South Bay or offshore at the Farallon Islands, although oiled birds have been found at all of the refuges.


Approximately 30 Region 8 and Region 1 staff (Sacramento FWO, San Francisco Bay NWRC, Carlsbad FWO, Portland and Sacramento Regional offices & law enforcement have been assisting with response and natural resource assessment.  Region 8 staff are also working with the National Park Service, the lead Federal Administrative Trustee, and other state and federal agencies to conduct national resources damage assessment activities under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.


As of November 14, the following Service resources have been affected. Migratory Birds: 718 dead, 863 live in rehabilitation; Endangered. Species: 1 dead marbled murrelet, and approximately 15-18 oiled western snowy plovers.


The US Coast Guard authorization for DOI Bureaus is $1,034,521 with FWS receiving $202,362 through November 21.  The ship’s owner, Regal Stone Limited has tentatively agreed to conduct a cooperative assessment and has provided DOI with $100,000.


The Cosco Busan incident is similar to a spill that occurred 11 years ago.  On October 28, 1996, the Cape Mohican spilled approximately 40,000 gallons of Intermediate Fuel Oil very near the site of the current spill. According to Service employees who responded during both events, the “behavior” of the Cosco Busan spill is very similar to the Cape Mohican spill.  This information has helped Contaminants and Refuge staff in planning their response and assessment actions 


Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov