Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Facts

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Facts
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill occurred on March 24th, 1989 in Prince William Sound, Alaska when the oil tanker names Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef. The oil tanker was headed for California with 55 million US gallons of oil, and spilled 11 million US gallons into the water in Prince William Sound. The remote location of the spill made clean-up efforts extremely difficult and it covered 1300 miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of the ocean. It was one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters ever, and remains as such even after more recent oil spills because it was so difficult to reach. Some estimates now say that as many as 32 million US gallons were actually spilled in the disaster.
Interesting Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Facts:
Human error, caused by lack of sleep is one of the causes of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
The Exxon Valdez was a 987 foot long oil tanker. After the oil spill the tanker was fixed and reused under several names including the SeaRiver Mediterranean, Dong Fang Ocean, and Oriental Nicety. It was turned into scrap metal in 1012.
It has been suggested that the radar system that would have alerted the crew to Bligh Reef was not properly maintained - but this finding is not present in the official report of the incident.
Exxon blamed the captain for the incident because he had been drinking and was sleeping in his quarters however the third mate that was operating the tanker would have seen the reef if the radar had been working and the disaster would not have happened.
The immediate impact of the oil spill on sea birds was the death of as many as 250,000. 300 harbor seals died immediately as well. There were also 247 bald eagle deaths, 22 orca deaths, 12 river otter deaths, 2,800 sea otter deaths, and an unknown amount of herring, salmon, and other fish.
In 2006 there was still more than 101 tonnes of oil in the region and approximately 6 miles of the shoreline was still being negatively impacted.
In 2010 it was estimated that there was still 23,000 US gallons of oil in the sand and soil of the area. In 2014 it was estimated that as many as 21,000 US gallons of oil were still contaminating the area.
It is possible to dig holes in the beach at Prince William Sound and find oil pockets.
The herring that once provided income for fisherman never fully recovered and the herring industry in the region was devastated.
One of the two killer whale groups in the region is expected to become extinct because of the oil spill that devastated its population.
Because of the Exxon Valdez oil spill a new law called the Oil Pollution Act was passed in 1990. It made it mandatory that oil companies develop plans to deal with such disasters in the future.
Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill the Oil Spill Liability Trust was established. It provides up to $1 billion per spill to help with clean-up.


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