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Submitted by on 1, November 16, 2009 – 11:00 amNo Comment
Crown Beach is closed Saturday.

The East Bay Regional Park District has reopened a portion of Robert W. Crown Memorial Beach. The beach has been closed since October 30, when a tanker vessel spilled hundreds of gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay.

Over the weekend, the park district reopened the portion of the beach that stretches from Crab Cove Visitors Center to the Boardsports Windsurf concession on Westline Drive. The southern portion of the beach – from Boardsports to the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary – is closed as crews continue to clean up tarballs that are still washing up on the beach.

“The team determined that the northern section of the beach could be open, however advise the public to visit with caution as tarballs may continue to appear for some months,” the park district’s Shelley Lewis wrote in a press advisory that went up on the district’s website Monday morning. (Lewis hasn’t returned calls seeking comment.) Tarball advisory signs and hand washing stations will be set up along the beach, the press advisory says, and crews will continue to sweep the northern portion of the mile-long beach each morning.

State environmental health officials are advising that if you get oil or tar on your skin, just wash up with soap and water. Oil or tar on your clothes can be washed out with regular detergent.

The district’s shoreline cleanup folks will reconvene Wednesday afternoon to determine whether the rest of the beach can reopen, the advisory says.

The closure came after the Panamanian-flagged Dubai Star tanker vessel spilled as much as 800 gallons of oil into the Bay during an early morning refueling run on October 30, at an anchorage a few miles south of Alameda Point. The spill led to closures of both Crown Beach and Encinal Beach along Ballena Bay as the oil drifted to shore and also a halt to fishing and shellfish gathering along the Alameda County coastline.

The spill covered 69 feathered Island residents, 20 of whom were found dead and another 16 of whom died while being cared for at an oiled bird sanctuary in Cordelia. More than two dozen of the live birds have been treated and released.

The Star was released to complete its voyage on November 5, and Encinal Beach was reopened November 6. Fishing and shellfish harvesting is now permitted again south of Oakland International Airport but remains prohibited from Alameda Point to the southern boundary of the airport.

State and federal officials continue to investigate the cause of the spill, though they believe a mechanical problem is to blame.

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