No good deed goes unpunished.
At least that’s how Muir Beach resident Sigward Moser felt Friday after he says he was threatened with a Taser gun, forced to the ground and handcuffed by a National Park Service ranger for refusing to stop cleaning up the oily beach beneath his home.
Moser, a 45-year-old communications consultant, said he was forced to sprawl handcuffed on the wet sand for an hour before he was released and given two misdemeanor citations, one for entering an emergency area and another for refusing a lawful order.
“It was pretty wet and uncomfortable,” he said Saturday. “This is very frustrating, and it was completely avoidable.”
Moser’s Pacific Way home overlooks Muir Beach, where cleanup crews with 100 professionals in white and yellow protective coveralls were at work yesterday.
But there was no one cleaning up Friday when oily globs the size of bowling balls began washing up on shore from Wednesday’s disastrous fuel oil spill.
Moser, a neighborhood liaison on the Muir Beach Disaster Council, went out on the oily beach with an impromptu crew of Buddhist monks in training at the nearby Green Gulch Zen Center.
He said they scooped up 7,000 pounds of solidified oil and put it in plastic bags before park service officials arrived in the afternoon to size up the situation.
“You don’t have to be trained to do this,” he said. “We had on gloves and we didn’t feel there was a health risk. It just lifted up from the sand like it was in kitty litter. They came late with only five people. We felt that anything we could do is better than nothing.”
Moser said he declined three orders to halt his activities before he was cited.
Park service officials held a conference call on Saturday about the incident with members of the Muir Beach Community Services District.
“They were upset, but we tried to reassure them why trained professionals are needed to do this work,” said National Park Service publicist Rich Weideman, citing health hazards and unintended injuries to wildlife by untrained volunteers.