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article imageCargo spill at entrance to San Francisco Bay forces ship warnings

By Nathan Salant     Dec 14, 2015 in Environment
San Francisco - U.S. Coast Guard officials warned ships entering or leaving San Francisco Bay to watch out for pallets and other shipping materials that were washed off a container ship heading from Oakland to Seattle.
The Coast Guard said 12 containers slid into the surf from the 810-foot cargo ship Manoa in heavy seas Friday evening and that at least one of the containers broke apart on rocks near Baker Beach.
Crews worked all-day Sunday and were still at work Monday, retrieving dozens of plastic pallets that littered the beach, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Most of the containers were empty, officials said, and none of the material in the ones that weren't was harmful to marine life.
Matsun Inc. of Honolulu, Hi., owner of the Manoa, hired an environmental contractor to find 11 missing containers and clean up the mess left by the one that broke up on rocks near the beach, the newspaper said.
Many of the remaining containers may have sunk, officials said.
Coast Guard officials said the accident happened when the Manoa encountered 19-foot waves and 20 mph winds right after it passed under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Manoa had just left the Port of Oakland on a trip to Seattle.
Some debris had already washed ashore Sunday morning, the newspaper said.
Arthur Fraser told the newspaper that he was shocked to see the beach covered in pallets when he went down to the shore early Sunday.
“I was horrified to see the beach strewn with these green plastic pallets,” Fraser said.
“There were just so many -- not hundreds, but thousands.”
Fraser said he worked for a few hours cleaning up the beach with a group of young boys who also were searching for debris and stacking pallets on dry land.
“The surf was just full of the them,” he said.
The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials also worked with state and city representatives on Monday to collect the pallets with rakes and to use metal saws to cut up the recovered container.
Parking lots at Baker Beach were closed to the public Monday to keep the area open for cleanup crews, National Park Service spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman told the newspaper, but beachgoers on foot were still allowed to use the beach if they avoided the workers.
Members of the public have been asked to contact the Coast Guard in San Francisco at (415) 399-7300 if they spot any of the missing containers.
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