The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

What caused the Exxon Valdez oil spill?


The oil tanker Exxon Valdez left the Trans Alaska Pipeline terminal in Valdez at 9:12 p.m. on March 23, holding 53 million gallons of oil. A series of mishaps that night would lead to among biggest oil spills in modern record.

Beneath the purchases of Capt. Joseph L. Hazelwood, the Valdez steered out of its typical delivery lane to prevent icebergs. According to the Alaska Oil Spill Commission report, Hazelwood ceded control of the wheelhouse to Third Mate Gregory Cousins at approximately 11:53; at the same time, Helmsman Harry Claar was replaced by Robert Kagan.

Soon after midnight, Cousins tried to guide into the standard shipping lane, but he could not turn the tanker rapidly adequate. It struck Bligh Reef at more or less 12:04 a.m., puncturing 11 of the cargo tanks. The tanker, stuck up against the reef, begun to spill an incredible number of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.

Government agencies and Exxon sent in crews to contain the spill and clean up the oil, but “spill avoidance and response capability in Prince William Sound was fundamentally insufficient, ” writes the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

An estimated 11 million gallons of oil ultimately spilled into the noise, contaminating 1, 300 miles of shoreline. The environmental effects were devastating; the EVOSTC estimates the spill killed “250, 000 seabirds, 2, 800 water otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, around 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs.”

Though Exxon pledged to clear up the spill, there remain huge number of gallons of oil in Prince William Sound that aren’t becoming removed. In line with the EVOSTC, “This Exxon Valdez oil is lowering at a consistent level of 0-4percent each year. … at this specific rate, the rest of the oil will need decades and possibly hundreds of years to fade totally.”

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