San Francisco officials reopened Aquatic Park Wednesday morning, returning the popular waterfront spot to swimmers, boaters and tourists looking to get a little sand between their toes. Aquatic Park, on the city’s northern shore close to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, had been closed because of contamination from the Nov. 7 Cosco Busan oil spill.
I visited the area two days after the spill (see Nov. 9 post here), and went back this Wednesday to see how things had changed.
The first thing I noticed was that aggressive smell of petroleum that permeated the air nearly two weeks ago was gone. The string of yellow tape that had blocked access to the water had been taken down, and people strolled along the beach. The sun was bright, birds bobbed in the water and probed the rocks for food. I even saw someone swimming. In short, to a casual observer everything looked like it was back to normal.
But I wanted a closer look. I had timed my visit to take advantage of the afternoon’s low tide, since it was roughly the same as when I was there Nov. 9 and would provide an accurate comparison of conditions. I climbed down the seawall and examined the shoreline more carefully, and discovered that it still was easy to see rocks coated with oil. Municipal Pier was still closed, too.
In spite of the footage and photos of San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin swimming at Aquatic Park on Wednesday morning (is it me, or does it look like he’s really hit the gym since those pictures of the speedo-clad legislator appeared in San Francisco Magazine earlier this year?), I think the impact of the Cosco Busan is going to be with us for a long, long time.