Source AP ©

San Francisco washed by leaked oil

Oil leaked from a cargo ship that crashed into San Francisco's Bay Bridge is washing up on beaches about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

Helicopters are surveying the damage, and skimmers have been sucking up the oil on the bay and ocean. Teams are also walking the shoreline scooping up the oil, authorities said. A small number of birds have been spotted coated in oil.

About 58,000 gallons (219,547 liters) spilled from the ship when it struck a tower supporting the bridge between San Francisco and Oakland on Wednesday morning. The accident caused no structural damage to the span, officials said, but the vessel's hull suffered a large gash.

The spill has closed five area beaches.

"By our guidelines it is a medium-sized spill. But in the San Francisco Bay Area, that is a big deal," said Coast Guard Capt. William Uberti, captain of the Port of San Francisco and the chief federal officer investigating the incident.

Scientists are still assessing the best cleanup techniques and the environmental impact.

The pilot of the ship is being interviewed by Coast Guard authorities.

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