Exxon Valdez Oil Spill


In March of 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef
in Prince William Sound, Alaska. An eighteen foot wide hole was ripped into the
hull, and 10.9 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean. In the
following weeks, many things transpired. This paper will discuss the cleanup,
the damage, and the results of the biggest oil spill in United States history.

On March 24, 1989, in Prince William Sound Alaska, the Exxon Valdez was
moving South West after leaving Port Valdez. The ship was carrying over fifty
million gallons of crude oil. When the Valdez was only twenty-eight miles from
the port, it ran aground on Bligh reef. The bottom was ripped open, and 10.9
million gallons of North Slope Crude Oil spilled into the frozen Alaskan waters
at a rate of two hundred thousand gallons per minute. The remaining forty-two
million gallons were off loaded. In the ensuing days, more than 1,200 miles of
shoreline were hit with oil. This area included four National Wildlife Refugees,
three National Parks, and Chugach National Forest.
Within hours, smaller tanker vessels arrived in order to off load the
remaining oil. Unfortunately, the cleanup effort was hindered by an inadequate
cleanup plan that had been created during the 1970's. These plans outlined how
an oil spill would be handled, including provisions for maintaining equipment
such as containment booms and "skimmer boats." The plans...