Daytime view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco seen from Yerba Buena Island
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An empty oil tanker caused minor damage when it struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Monday, and the busy span remained open to traffic, officials said.
The tanker "Overseas Reymar" from the Marshall Islands struck a tower of the west span of the bridge about 11:20 a.m. while it headed out to sea, according to the Coast Guard and state transportation officials.
It was not carrying oil as cargo, only fuel to power its engines, said Charlie Goodyear, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association. He said the ship's hull appeared to suffer some scrapes and minor indentations but was not breached.
The pilot remained on board to be interviewed by the Coast Guard, Goodyear said.
The vessel and part of the bridge sustained a little damage, but the superstructure of the bridge was fine, said California Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jordan Scott.
There were no reports of oil or hazardous materials in the water, and no crew members on the ship were injured, he said.
"There is some damage to the vessel, but nothing that poses a danger to anybody," he said. "A fire boat is out there to make sure it stays that way, and it should."
California Department of Transportation spokesman Bart Ney said maintenance crews were headed out to inspect the structure although the tower appeared fine from a distance.
Ney said there is a fender system that has been built onto the west span that normally can absorb such strikes.
The strike came more than five years after the container ship Cosco Busan slammed into the bridge on a foggy morning and dumped 53,000 gallons of oil into the water.
No one was injured but the spill contaminated 26 miles of shoreline. It also killed more than 2,500 birds of about 50 species and delayed the start of the crab-fishing season.
The cleanup cost exceeded $70 million. The ship's pilot, Capt. John Cota, served a 10-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
The companies responsible for the Cosco Busan paid close to $60 million for the cleanup and in criminal fines.
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