There’s a weird story brewing over at Fire Dog Lake about the worst oil spill ever to hit San Fransisco’s Bay. First, volunteers are being told not to help.

Hundreds of would-be oil spill cleanup volunteers who wanted to do something were told on Saturday in San Francisco to go home and do nothing.

Spilled oil is just too dangerous for ordinary citizens to clean up, the experts said.

Even more strange, volunteers are being made to sign “loyalty oaths” before being sent home!

At the volunteer meeting, everyone at the gathering was given an official-looking state volunteer application to fill out, complete with a loyalty oath.

And if that isn’t odd enough, the state of California is arresting volunteers who are cleaning up public areas of their own state!

Beth Brown of San Francisco said she and her boyfriend spent about 15 minutes cleaning Baker Beach on Saturday morning, filling a couple of plastic bags with oily clumps. Then a park ranger and a cop appeared, told her the beach was closed and threatened them with arrest.

It was much the same in Marin County, where Sigward Moser led a 30-person volunteer group – including 20 monks-in-training from the Mill Valley Zen Center – onto Muir Beach on Friday. For his efforts, he was detained and handcuffed.

“He asked us to leave, and we said we needed to do what we were doing, so he put me in handcuffs,” said Moser, a communications consultant. “I told him, ‘Well, there was nobody else doing the cleanup before we began,’ but he just said I was breaking the law and this is hazardous material that I shouldn’t be dealing with.”



  1. tony says:

    I think the lame attempt at humor was that the houses will all be empty here in the US – affordable housing.
    When Exxon dumped the most oil of all time I remember seeing many volunteers on the commercials for Dawn liquid detergent…

    Perhaps as this is not crude oil it is flammable or more toxic ?

  2. dinAlt says:

    The spill was comprised of ‘bunker fuel.’ This is the name given to any type of fuel aboard a ship, but is usually #6 fuel oil, although it can be #1 or #2 diesel as well. #6 is just a heavier version of diesel fuel. While it would not be a good idea to consume this stuff, it is really not all that dangerous. Limited skin contact will not harm anyone, anymore than getting diesel on your hands will. As for flammability, this stuff is not volatile enough to present a hazard. I know mechanics who wash their hands in this stuff. This type of routine exposure is probably not a good idea, but it does demonstrate the overreaction of the authorities. Do I need to call in the hazmat team the next time some diesel is spilled on my garage floor and I want to clean it up?

    Honestly, I would be more concerned with the hazardous nature of the water in the Bay, than the fuel in it. This is probably the call of some ignorant bureaucrat wanting to cover his ass.

  3. VICB3 says:

    Actually, it was Bunker Fuel, not Crude.

    Bunker fuel is an form of cheap Diesel Fuel, less well refined yet suitable for the larger – room sized really – diesel engines found on modern cargo ships. (It’s usually a few tens of cents cheaper than dock diesel, but it does a real number on your engine, so don’t use it on your sailboat, or yin our car for that matter.)

    The photo above looks like a file photo of a crude spill. Bunker behaves differently, albeit still making a hell of a mess.

    Best solution of cleanup is to soak it up with booms – happening evidently – then hit the residual with dispersant, really little more than watered down detergent.

    With regards to the fines and arrests, well, what do you expect? You have a “Big Government” bureaucratic mentality that wants to protect its turf and maintain a dependency mindset, and a justified fear of “Big Baby” lawsuits if someone slips and falls or gets some disease and in turn decides to find out if they’ve won the lottery.

    In an earlier era, none of this bureaucratic posturing and gyrating and legal butt covering would have happened. Everybody would have just pitched in, all civic minded aid – however “untrained” or otherwise unauthorized – would have been welcomed. whatever risks to life and limb there might be would have been assumed as a matter of course, and the damned thing would just be cleaned up.

    I guess we’ve lost something.

  4. mich says:

    #36 add another to the list new law in bosten police are now able to preform searches of childrens rooms looking for guns

    and is it just me or is the loyalty oath taken by members of the military?? just a thought

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