SAN FRANCISCO — An operation to float a sunken tugboat that leaked oil into San Francisco Bay is going to take two weeks. That’s the word Tuesday from salvage crews on Treasure Island where a World War II era Navy tugboat sank Sunday night.
About 100 gallons of diesel leaked from the boat, but that leak has been temporarily plugged. Most of the oil that did get out was kept from spreading.
State fish and game experts say there’s no major threat to wildlife, but more oil could leak out when that boat is finally raised to the surface again.
The oil sheen stretched 500 yards in the direction of the Berkeley Marina. The U.S.S. Wenonah has been moored on the eastern edge of Treasure Island for the past eight years. At some point Monday morning, the vessel sank, which led to the inevitable leak when the boat’s air vents became submerged. Tim Parker and his crew were brought in to stop the leaking.
“Water will bubble in, and fuel will bubble out and it’s just back and forth. A few drops of fuel come out and a few drops of water go in and it’s back and forth until it’s all gone,” says Parker from Parker Diving Service.
Luckily, divers plugged the vents before all of the fuel got out. The U.S. Coast Guard believes about 100 gallons of diesel were leaked into the bay, most of which they say has been contained.
It’s a tiny amount compared to the 53,000 gallons of oil that spilled from the Cosco Busan back in November 2007. Plus, there is a big difference in what was spilled.
“This is not a persistent oil like Cosco Busan where you saw that black, heavy oil that stayed around for days. This is mostly a diesel and some mixed with water emulsified, so as its coming up, it’s burning off with the UV and with the wind. So, it’s really dissipating quickly,” says Lt. Rob Roberts with the California Department of Fish and Game.
The Department of Fish and Game checked out the affected area by boat and by air. They also surveyed the shoreline. At this point, they don’t believe any wildlife is in danger.
“The area itself is not a sensitive wildlife or natural resource area that’s sensitive to any species of concern,” says Josh Nicholas with the Department of Fish and Game.
Crews have yet to determine what caused the vessel to sink.
Watch the video here: Tug to remain submerged for 2 weeks