Sunday, November 11, 2007

Top to Bottom Incompetence

"It's frustrating," said Ryan Gross of San Francisco.
"I want to help. I don't want to sit home and do nothing.
But that's what they told us to do."

The outrage continues to grow as more and more becomes known about the events that lead to the largest oil spill in decades in San Francisco Bay. The spill, which should not have happened in the first place, has now spread all over the bay, is threatening the crab season - perhaps for years - and today was found to be entering the estuaries of Point Reyes National Seashore.

While I am the first person to stand up for a government agency when they do something right, it is clear that all of the folks here screaming bloody murder about official incompetence are right on the money. It is, frankly, hard to imagine how the boat captains, the Coast Guard, and those in charge of informing the public of this ongoing disaster could have been any more incompetent. But, tomorrow is another day, and new revelations of the depth of this disaster seem to be coming daily.

Hundreds of Bay Area residents are actively ignoring orders given by the Coast Guard and other authorities to "let them handle it." I don't blame them... the Coast Guard have, frankly, been complete assholes about it, displaying almost utter contempt for those who have taken time off to help. Well fuck them. Here's a bit from the SFGate...

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people gathered Saturday in the Marin Headlands for yet another orientation by the Department of Fish and Game on how they could help - and they, too, wound up feeling flummoxed.

There was a long slide show presentation updating the spill situation, describing the cleanup equipment and how Fish and Game operates. But the crowd interrupted, wanting to know what they could do - instead of listening to a lot of talk.

"I've been to a lot of oil spills, and I have never been to one where there were this many volunteers," said Addassi, the environmental scientist with the department.

She was interrupted by frustrated people. "Don't waste us!" a man shouted. "We want to do something now!" yelled another.

Fish and Game volunteer coordinator Cindy Murphy begged people to be patient, and to call her volunteer line - (800) 228-4544 - because there are many opportunities to prepare materials and otherwise help without actually handling oil.

A preliminary investigation concluded to the surprise of absolutely no one that the cause of the spill was "human error," as reported in USA Today...

A preliminary investigation found human error caused a cargo ship to crash into the Bay Bridge, leading to San Francisco Bay's worst oil spill in nearly two decades, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday as rescue teams raced to save hundreds of seabirds.

Coast Guard officials said their early probe was focused on communication problems between the ship's crew and the pilot guiding the vessel, as well as communications between the pilot and the Vessel Traffic Service, the Coast Guard station that monitors the bay's shipping traffic.

Officials would not detail what evidence was uncovered. But Coast Guard Cmdr. Andrew Wood said "the mere fact that they collided with a fixed object" offered clear evidence that a communication problem had occurred.

But the human error did not stop there. The Coast Guard originally reported the spill at 140 gallons, and it wasn't till 12 hours later that they announced they made a slight miscalculation and that it was closer to 58,000 gallons. Obviously, somebody was attempting to cover their ass, and that person (or persons) should be used to sop up the oil. And ever since it has just been wave upon wave upon layer upon layer of bungling, misinformation, and incompetence.

No comments: