Analysis of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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Mahalia Gauld
January 18, 2011
MGMT 2850
Case Study #1- Exxon Valdez

Situation in Brief:
On March 24, 1989, an Exxon supertanker spilled 11 million gallons of oil while traveling through the pristine waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The consequences of this spill were detrimental and continue to affect life today. The oil spill killed thousands of wildlife, extensively damaged a portion of the beautiful Alaskan environment, and eventually affected the economy to global proportions. Unfortunately, this tragedy could have been prevented. Lack of adequate safety efforts, enforcement, and regulations all played a major role in this truly catastrophic event. However, Prince William Sound’s remote location made government and industry relief efforts extremely difficult. The Alaskan community and the United States heavily criticized Exxon for their slow response to one of the largest environmental disasters of the century. The failed clean up left Exxon with several lawsuits that led to extreme political consequences. The environmental and economical effects were devastating and continue to be an issue in today’s society.

* Exxon Co. & Employees
* Coast Guard
* Local Vendors
* Wildlife (Animals)
* Fishermen
* Population of Alaska
* Government Agencies
* Lawyers
* Clean-up crews
* Investors
* Lawyers
* Other oil tanker companies
* Environmentalists
* Volunteers

* Exxon operated with faulty equipment
* Staff failed to repair the Raycas radar system on the ship * This would have indicated the impending collision with the Bligh Reef * The radar had been disabled for over a year; the company was aware of this * Exxon operated with lack of staff

* Exxon failed to supervise the master and provide rest * There was not a sufficient crew on ship
* Lack of money
* The original contingency plans were designed for spills involving 200,000 oil barrels * Huge spills were only predicted to occur every 241 years * Considered an unlikely event
* Initial plan did not require barges to be unloaded
* Lack of preparation and training for employees
* Lack of equipment personnel
* Tanker inspections were not completed prior
* Equipment was not located at the terminal
* Snow was on top of the equipment
* Skimmers only collect 1% of any spill
* Crew members performed multiple duties, causing fatigue * Coast Guard failed at providing safe boat traffic system and environment * They advertised safe traffic lanes
* However, there were ice in the waters and with rough currents * Ships were able to move out of designated traffic lanes with ease * Supertanker faded out of the radar screen

* Never full radar coverage to begin with
* Coast Guard assumed the ship was out of range
* The Coast Guard detected alcohol on Captain Hazelwood’s breath, yet took no action * Lack of double bottom cushion
* This could have reduced amounts of spill by up to 60% * Captain Hazelwood violated company and national policies * Hazelwood was not in his required position on the bridge * Two crew members are required to be on deck, but there was only one * The 3rd mate was driving the boat during the incident; he was not qualified or properly trained for this job * Hazelwood consumed alcohol within 4 hours of departing * Hazelwood reported a reduction in speed and change in course; this was not entirely accurate * Exxon and the United States government stalled the clean-up efforts * Hundreds of thousands of Alaskan wildlife were killed

* Salmon, sea otters, seals, birds
* Unemployment eventually resulted from the spill
* Reduced tourism including all recreational sports (fishing, etc.)...
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