For Jim O'Brien, all oil spills have just one thing in common: they happen at night or on weekends.
O'Brien, a roving oil-pollution trouble-shooter hired to coordinate the Huntington Beach cleanup, was summoned at 10:30 Wednesday night from Lake Shore, La. He was on a plane for Los Angeles at 5:30 the next morning.
With 200 spills under his belt, O'Brien is recognized as one of the nation's leading cleanup specialists. A spokesman from BP America, a cleanup company, called O'Brien the Red Adair of the oil-spill business, in reference to the legendary oil-well fire specialist.
O'Brien is no stranger to these shores. His 20 years in the Coast Guard included a stint as head of the Pacific Strike Team, responsible for coordinating the cleanup of all oil spills in the West. He also was cleanup manager for the 1987 Pac Baroness spill in the Santa Barbara Channel and the 1988 Shell Oil Co. spill at Martinez.