The Cosco Busan Oil Spill Clean-Up as PR? One reader wants to know

Categories: Environment

We just got this from a reader who wanted to lend a helping hand, but feels manipulated by the Mayor's office. Hit it!:


Something smelled a little oily at the mayor's 'volunteer event' Sunday. After an email from the Mayor's Office urged me to help 'collect stressed birds and assist with hazardous materials' in San Francisco's 'spill-affected wetlands,' I showed up at Heron's Head park at 9:30 a.m., where a smiling official handed me a trash-grabbing tool and a garbage bag. The instructions to walk along the shoreline looking for oiled birds and
picking up trash seemed at odds with the State Fish and Game Department's instructions to stay away from beaches so as not to scare hypothermic oil-matted birds back into the cold ocean. Later, my bag heavy with garbage, having spotted no beached birds but scared many swimming ones, I was told by a different official to stay away from the water because all the volunteers were scaring birds away from this sensitive bird sanctuary, but if I wanted to weed the park that would be nice. At that point I began to suspect that this whole volunteer event had more to do with the mayor's PR needs than with the birds' survival needs.

-- Clare Corcoran

So, what is the right thing to do for citizen's when there's an oil spill? Cell phone, emails and google maps have made broad action possible in an instant, yet only a fraction of the Bay got mobilized in the initial critical moments. Are we going to see "Oil Clean-Up" flash mobs emerging in a few years?
--David Downs

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