Google's mystery barge in San Francisco Bay under investigation

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Dec 5, 2013 10:19am IST

A barge built with four levels of shipping containers is seen at Pier 1 at Treasure Island in San Francisco, California October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

A barge built with four levels of shipping containers is seen at Pier 1 at Treasure Island in San Francisco, California October 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam

Related Topics

Stocks

   
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The agency that oversees development in the San Francisco Bay in California has begun a formal investigation into the construction of a secretive Google Inc (GOOG.O) barge on an island in the bay.

The probe, which began in the past week, will examine what permits are needed to build the barge and whether the owners of the Treasure Island pier where the vessel is moored have the proper permits, said Larry Goldzband, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

"We want to make sure that the permits that are used by the owners of the pier actually allowed for construction to happen," Goldzband told Reuters on Wednesday, referring to what he described as "a preliminary and formal enforcement investigation."

Google officials informed Goldzband in a recent meeting that they are in the process of making changes to the barge's design which have been requested by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Jason Tama, a Coast Guard commander, said he could not comment on any specific cases, but noted that it was standard practice for the Coast Guard to inspect new construction to ensure that safety, security and environmental protection regulations are met. Changes to vessels are a common part of the process, he said.

Google did not return requests for comment.

The barge, which is made of steel shipping containers stacked four-stories high, has stirred intense speculation about its purpose since its existence was first reported in October. Google, the world's No.1 Internet search engine, has kept mum on what it intends to use the barge for.

Documents submitted to the Port of San Francisco in August describe an "artistic" technology exhibition space.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, citing documents that Google submitted to barge builder Turner Construction Co, refer to a "floating retail store."

A floating retail store might raise questions with the conservation and development commission, which issues permits for vessels that are moored in one spot for an extended time.

The current investigation is focused on the construction of the barge, rather than its future use. The probe, which should take a few weeks, will look at who owns the pier, who uses it and for what purposes, said Goldzband.

Bay Ship and Yacht Co has a lease with Treasure Island for Pier One which ran until November 30, according to documents provided to Reuters by the Treasure Island Development Authority earlier this year. The director of the development authority was not immediately available on Wednesday.

Bay Ship and Yacht Co could not immediately be reached for comment.

Goldzband would not speculate about what kind of action might result if it was determined that there was a violation, but he said that the commission has the power to levy fines as well as to issue "cease-and-desist" orders.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Jackie Frank)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Election 2014

Election 2014

Kashmiris wary as Modi challenges for power.  Full Article 

Facebook's Performance

Facebook's Performance

Facebook Q1 revenue grows 72 percent on rising mobile ads.  Full Article 

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Bharti Infratel Q4 net profit jumps 64 percent.  Full Article 

Monsoon Forecast

Monsoon Forecast

South Asia monsoon seen below-average to average in 2014 - WMO.  Full Article 

Solar Dispute

Solar Dispute

Green groups urge U.S. to drop solar trade case against India.  Full Article 

Oil Imports

Oil Imports

India to make May-July oil payments to Iran - sources.  Full Article 

Rice Exports

Rice Exports

India may cede top rice exporter spot under Southeast Asian price onslaught.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage