The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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Introduction ………………………………………………….pg 2

The Exxon Valdez oil spill……………………………………pg 2

Short term effects……………………………………………pg 3

Long term effects……………………………………………pg 3

Canges after the spill………………………………………..pg 4

Legal settlement……………………………………………..pg 4

Reference…………………………………………………….pg 4

Introduction

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef inPrince William Sound, Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters. According to an article from the encyclopedia of the earth, the response to the Exxon Valdez involved more personnel and equipment over a longer period of time than did any other spill in U.S. history. Logistical problems in providing fuel, meals, berthing, response equipment, waste management and other resources were one of the largest challenges to response management. At the height of the response, more than 11,000 personnel, 1,400 vessels and 85 aircraft were involved in the cleanup.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil spill released millions of gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound Alaska.   The spill immediately resulted in the death of oiled wildlife and significant reductions in tourism, recreational fishing and commercial fishing.  Long-term direct effects of the spill include lingering oil with associated negative impacts on the ecosystem. Some marine animal populations have still not recovered to pre-spill levels. In March 1989, The Exxon Valdez oil tanker grounded on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound Alaska, perforating its single hull, and eventually releasing 11-32 million gallons of crude oil into the water.  The spill affected over 1,200 miles of coastline and was the worst environmental disaster of any kind in Alaska.  The cause of the spill was determined to be human errors, including inadequate rest by crewmembers and failure to repair broken equipment.  Exxon initially directed most of the blame at the captain, Joseph Hazelwood, but multiple subsequent legal judgments found Exxon (now ExxonMobil) at fault.  As a result of the subsequent monetary settlements, an organization called the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) was created to oversee research on the oil spill.  Active cleanup was pronounced complete in 1992 but extensive research on the effects of the spill continues to this day.

Short term effects

The very visible deaths of tens of thousands of seabirds, thousands of sea otters, hundreds of harbor seals and eagles and over 20 orca whales gained the intense attention of the public.   Less visible was the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs, as well as algae and invertebrate populations. Tourism was noticeably affected in the years after the spill, with estimates of lost revenue into the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Some businesses, such as fishing lodges and wildlife charters, were severely impacted, and others, such as motels and caterers, actually benefited from the massive influx of cleanup personal to the area. The spill heavily impacted recreational fishing. The cost to the industry in 1989, due to cancellation of charter trips and the use of fishing boats for cleanup efforts, was estimated at 3.6 to 50.5 million dollars. Commercial fishing for salmon, herring, crab, shrimp, rockfish, and sablefish was closed after the spill throughout Prince William Sound, as well as in Cook Inlet, the outer Kenai Coast, Kodiak, and the...
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