SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A protective wood, steel and plastic fender on a Bay Bridge tower that was damaged after an oil tanker struck it earlier this month is being ripped off and replaced with new materials.

The Overseas Reymar, a 752-foot tanker that was headed to sea Jan. 7, struck the fender on the most eastern tower of the bridge’s western span.

Although the damage was “fairly superficial,” according to Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus, repairs are estimated around $3 million.

The fender worked as intended.

“The purpose is to absorb energy,” Haus said, with only the more western side of the tower impacted directly by the glancing blow.

However, Caltrans crews will be demolishing the entire fender through next week, before upgrading the wraparound protective layer.

Repairs started Tuesday and are expected to continue for four and a half months, Haus said.

The new fender will consist of all plastic lumber over steel beams, instead of the current wood material.

The plastic pieces that will surround the foot of the tower are each about 12-feet long.

The plastic to be used is 100 percent recycled, Haus said.

The repairs are similar to that of the neighboring western span tower’s fender that was struck by the Cosco Busan oil tanker in 2007, which spilled 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the Bay.

Some of the discarded materials, including treated wood and older plastic lumber pieces, will be disposed of while some will be sent to a recycling center, Haus said.

The removed pieces of fender are sitting in a few large heaps, with portions covered in barnacles, muscles and other sea life, on a barge floating next to the foot of the tower.

The Bay Area Toll Authority will be footing the repairs bill from reserves, however the umbrella agency Metropolitan Transportation Commission is working to collect money from the tanker’s owner, OSG Ship Management Inc., Haus said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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