Assemblywoman Loni Hancock blasted Coast Guard as incompetent

pb200639.jpgAssemblywoman Loni Hancock spoke to dozens of Albany audience Monday. Photo by Linjun Fan.

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, said that the Coast Guard has “big problems” in their response to the oil spill during a speech at Albany Community Center Monday.

Hancock got the conclusion from a legislative hearing she presided on the issue last Thursday.

“What we were finding is that basically the Coast Guard has big problems about the way they responded to this and the timeliness of their response, ” Hancock said.

Hancock said that booms weren’t set up to prevent the oil spill from polluting East Bay shorelines until it’s too late.

“Why didn’t booms be shipped immediately? ” said Hancock. “And then nobody was told about it, and nothing really happened for eight hours, which was approximately two tidal shifts. The oil was carried with the tide out of the Golden Gate Bridge and carried back by the tide onto East Bay beaches and many of our other shorelines. “

The boom off Albany’s shoreline to protect Albany mudflat wasn’t set up until two days and a half after the oil spill.

Hancock also criticized that lots of time was wasted in the clean-up too. The New Orleans-based O’Briens Group was contracted to clean up the oil spill. Staff of the company had to fly to the San Francisco Bay Area, find local subcontractors, hire and train workers before they could start the cleaning.

“You don’t want to bring supervisors from the Gulf, to hire people wherever they find them, and then train them for 24 hours, and then put them on the beaches, because by that time, all there is to do is to scrape oil out of the sand, ” Hancock said.

She vowed to draft a series of bills to prevent the ill-preparedness from happening again.

“This wasn’t a wake up call. This is a relatively small oil spill, but we don’t ever want to be this unprepared again, ” Hancock said .

A number of things will be considered, such as how to ensure timely response; whether banker fuel should be banned and replaced with cleaner fuel; whether more ships, instead of just tankers, be required to have double hulls.

And how to empower local governments’ response capability will be discussed too.

“I really would like to see every community has enough booms to boom its beaches right away, ” Hancock said.

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