A federal criminal investigation has been opened into a 58,000-gallon spill of heavy bunker fuel into the San Francisco Bay. The spill took place when a container ship slammed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Wednesday. Coast Guard officials acknowledged Friday that they had waited over four hours before notifying the public of the magnitude of the spill. They had previously reported a leak of just 140 gallons.
The oil spill has shut down over a dozen beaches and killed at least 60 birds. Ecologists warn that it could take months to clean up and that it threatens the Bay's diverse ecosystem, including several endangered species.
Environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth and San Francisco Baykeeper have condemned the ecological impact of the spill and the slowness of the official response. They are also calling for a ban on the shipping industry's use of the heavily polluting bunker fuel, which they say is a thousand times worse for the environment than highway diesel.
CNN offers pictures of the spill, of which the impact is horrifying to consider. Beaches all around the Bay Area are closed with big signs telling people not to touch the beach tar that is floating up to shore. Oil has been reported as far as 15 miles away and reports are that this will impact wildlife in the area for years to come.