Patt Morrison for November 12, 2007

Environmental Disaster in San Francisco Bay a Criminal Act?

Last Wednesday at 8:30am in a heavy fog, the cargo ship Cosco Busan struck the base of a tower of the San Francisco Bay Bridge's western span. It wasn't until later that day - close to 5pm - that the full ramifications of the ship - bridge collision were realized: At least 58,000 gallons of fuel had spilled into the San Francisco Bay, and the Coast Guard started a tardy cleanup process. By that point oil had soaked the beaches of the Bay, and by this weekend at least 200 birds had died as a result of the oil spill. Criticism of the delayed response to the oil spill is growing, and today a criminal investigation has been opened against the ship's crew and its owners. There's no doubt that the oil spill is an environmental disaster, but was the initial collision a criminal act?

* Debra Hersman, board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, on scene NTSB coordinator in the San Francisco Bay.
* Linda Sheehan, executive director of California Coast Keeper Alliance; board member of the California Office of Spill Prevention & Response
* Amy Standen: Reporter for KQED covering this story

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