On Friday, a full two days after a container ship rammed into San Francisco’s Bay Bridge and began spilling oil into the bay, Coast Guard authorities were doing damage control on their own behalf as the slick continued to spread.

Los Angeles Times:

Coast Guard officers initially said 140 gallons of the viscous fuel had oozed out, and then failed to update local officials or the public for more than 12 hours as the extent of the disaster grew.

Outraged by the delay, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom threatened legal action, and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) dispatched a testy letter to the Coast Guard commandant in Washington.

Rear Adm. Craig Bone, the Coast Guard’s top officer in California and other Western states, said the delay was “unacceptable” but defended the emergency response as an appropriately aggressive effort.

The initial cleanup crew — a quick-strike response team manning a skimmer boat that vacuums oil residue off the water — arrived at the spill site within 90 minutes of the accident, authorities said. By Thursday morning, when the fog had lifted so authorities could get a flight up to survey the extent of the slick, 11 skimmer boats had been dispatched by a private contractor hired for the cleanup.

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