Senator Calls for "Protectively Located" Fuel Tanks on Ships

Monday, February 11, 2008
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week called on the Coast Guard to strengthen standards for preparedness and recovery in the wake of the Cosco Busan oil spill. Senator Feinstein urged the Commandant of the Coast Guard to update the prepared contingency plan for the San Francisco area.

Senator Feinstein also urged the Coast Guard to require that all ships carrying a large amount of fuel be double-hulled.

Senator Feinstein’s letter comes in the wake of a disappointing preliminary report released by the Coast Guard last week, which analyzed the response to the Cosco Busan spill.

Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s letter to Commandant Thad Allen:

February 5, 2008

Commandant Thad Allen Coast Guard Headquarters 2100 Second Street, SW, Washington, DC 20593

Dear Commandant Allen:

It is clear from the Incident Specific Preparedness Report on the Cosco Busan Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay that the Coast Guard, its state and local partners, and private response organizations need to be better trained and better prepared to respond to oil spills.

I am concerned that the San Francisco Area Contingency Plan lacked the necessary clarity and purpose to guide an effective oil spill response. Most specifically, I believe that the plan should include provisions that itemize existing oil spill assets, that prioritize vulnerable areas, that take into account the valuable information gleaned from Trajectory Analyst Planner developed by NOAA, and that take into account conditions of low visibility. These are steps that can be taken immediately, and I request that you included this information as soon as possible.

On a related note, it is clear to me that the Coast Guard needs to update its preparedness and response standards. For example, California law in the Bay Area requires that firms using large ships contract with Oil Spill Response Organizations that are able to respond to a worst case oil discharge with equipment that meets OSPR’s stringent standards, within the first six hours. I look forward to working with you to develop strong standards similar to this across the nation.

Finally, it makes sense to require all cargo ships carrying a large amount of fuel be double hulled. I understand that the International Marine Organization requires ships produced after 2010 be double hulled, but I urge the Coast Guard require all ships be subject to this regulation. I feel that this is an essential step in safeguarding our waters, and I urge you to act quickly to implement this important protection.

Thank you for attention to these issues and please let me know how I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein United States Senator

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