~~March 24, 2014~~
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound‘s Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. local time and spilled 260,000 to 750,000 barrels (41,000 to 119,000 m3) of crude oil over the next few days. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. The Valdez spill was the largest ever in US waters until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in terms of volume released.
However, Prince William Sound‘s remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane, or boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, eventually covered 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of coastline, and 11,000 square miles (28,000 km2) of ocean. Exxon’s CEO, Lawrence Rawl, shaped the company’s response.
According to official reports, the ship was carrying approximately 55 million US gallons (210,000 m3) of oil, of which about 10.1 to 11 million US gallons (240,000 to 260,000 bbl; 38,000 to 42,000 m3) were spilled into the Prince William Sound. A figure of 11 million US gallons (260,000 bbl; 42,000 m3) was a commonly accepted estimate of the spill’s volume and has been used by the State of Alaska’s Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
Some groups, such as Defenders of Wildlife, dispute the official estimates, maintaining that the volume of the spill, which was calculated by subtracting the volume of material removed from the vessel’s tanks after the spill from the volume of the original cargo, has been under-reported. Alternative calculations, based on the assumption that the official reports underestimated how much seawater had been forced into the damaged tanks, placed the total at 25 to 32 million US gallons (600,000 to 760,000 bbl; 95,000 to 121,000 m3)
Multiple factors have been identified as contributing to the incident:
Beginning three days after the vessel grounded, a storm pushed large quantities of fresh oil on to the rocky shores of many of the beaches in the Knight Island chain.
- Exxon Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for Exxon Valdez. The NTSB found this was widespread throughout the industry, prompting a safety recommendation to Exxon and to the industry.
- The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue or excessive workload.
- Exxon Shipping Company failed to properly maintain the Raytheon Collision Avoidance System (RAYCAS) radar, which, if functional, would have indicated to the third mate an impending collision with the Bligh Reef by detecting the “radar reflector”, placed on the next rock inland from Bligh Reef for the purpose of keeping boats on course via radar. This cause has only been identified by Greg Palast (without evidentiary support) and is not present in the official accident report.
Captain Joseph Hazelwood, who was widely reported to have been drinking heavily that night, was not at the controls when the ship struck the reef. However, as the senior officer, he was in command of the ship even though he was asleep in his bunk. In light of the other findings, investigative reporter Greg Palast stated in 2008, “Forget the drunken skipper fable. As to Captain Joe Hazelwood, he was below decks, sleeping off his bender. At the helm, the third mate never would have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his RAYCAS radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker’s radar was left broken and disabled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was, in Exxon’s view, just too expensive to fix and operate.” Exxon blamed Captain Hazelwood for the grounding of the tanker.
Other factors, according to an MIT course entitled “Software System Safety” by Professor Nancy G. Leveson, included:
- Tanker crews were not told that the previous practice of the Coast Guard tracking ships out to Bligh Reef had ceased.
- The oil industry promised, but never installed, state-of-the-art iceberg monitoring equipment.
- Exxon Valdez was sailing outside the normal sea lane to avoid small icebergs thought to be in the area.
- The 1989 tanker crew was half the size of the 1977 crew, worked 12–14 hour shifts, plus overtime. The crew was rushing to leave Valdez with a load of oil.
- Coast Guard tanker inspections in Valdez were not done, and the number of staff was reduced.
- Lack of available equipment and personnel hampered the spill cleanup.
This disaster resulted in International Maritime Organization introducing comprehensive marine pollution prevention rules (MARPOL) through various conventions. The rules were ratified by member countries and, under International Ship Management rules, the ships are being operated with a common objective of “safer ships and cleaner oceans”.
Even though the Exxon Valdez spill took place almost a quarter-century ago, the environment is still recovering. But the devastation of this spill hasn’t stopped companies like Shell from pushing to drill in the Arctic.
~The United States of Oil Spills (25th Anniversary of Exxon Valdez)~
~~Published on Mar 20, 2014~~
How many oil spills will it take, America?
Tell Obama to keep America the Beautiful and protect our Arctic from oil disasters.
Words without meaning. Promises not kept. Oil drilling areas have been expanded … further exploration in the Artic.
March 24th marks the 25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill that killed millions of animals. And just yesterday, a barge carrying nearly a million gallons of oil collided and spilled near a bird sanctuary in Galveston, TX.
Now the Arctic faces the same threat from companies like Shell.
March 1989: an oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of oil and damaging 1300 miles of coastline.
The ecosystem is still not recovered.
25 years ago, 11 million gallons of oil were spilled in Prince William Sound. Only 7% was recovered.
Today, we still haven’t learned our lesson. Right now, heavy crude that was spilled Saturday in a barge collision is creeping closer to shore — and a bird sanctuary — near Galveston, TX.
Don’t let history repeat itself in the Arctic – Tell President Obama stop Shell’s attempts to drill in America’s Arctic.
~~Exxon Valdez oil spill harmed wildlife~~
~~Published on Mar 24, 2014~~
CNN’s Kyra Phillips looks at the devastating impact that the Exxon Valdez oil spill had on the area’s wildlife.
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Pres. Obama: stop Arctic oil drilling before it’s too late: http://bit.ly/1dieTY
~~To President Obama~~
“25 years ago, the Exxon Valdez spill showed us the disastrous consequences of an oil spill in the Arctic – 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into Prince William Sound, impacting 1300 miles of shoreline. The area still hasn’t fully recovered.
Now Shell permits to drill for oil in a place that should be protected for generations to come: America’s Arctic. A spill in the Chukchi Sea would be an even worse disaster, with the closest Coast Guard station a thousand miles away and the high Arctic winds making cleanup close to impossible. Even worse, Shell has already shown itself incapable of operating safely in the Arctic: its rig went aground, and other equipment was damaged or didn’t meet permit requirements.
If we allow Shell to drill in the Arctic, we will face yet another disaster that causes incalculable and likely permanent damage to one of the most beautiful places on earth.
As we reflect on the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, I urge you to cancel the current lease under which several oil companies want to drill in the Chukchi Sea and to stop the process to sell new leases in the Arctic Ocean.”
We ALL are connected through NATURE!!
We ALL fight the fight!!
We ALL are ONE!!