LEGAL UPDATE INITIAL RESPONSE Criminal Plea Agreement and Restitution (1991): Exxon’s $150 million fine was the largest THE Exxon Valdez The initial response to the spill was slow, uncoordinated, and ineffective. Seas and winds ever for an environmental crime. $25 million was forgiven by court due to Exxon’s cooperation in the clean-up and paying certain private claims. OIL SPILL were calm for three days, but almost no response equipment was available. On March 27, a Exxon paid $100 million in restitution for injuries to fish, wildlife, and lands of the spill region, storm blew in with winds up to which was divided evenly between the federal and 70mph, spreading the oil spill to state governments. the southwest along at least 1,400 miles of shoreline. Civil Settlement (1991): Exxon paid $900 million for restoration, research, and habitat protection, CLEAN-UP FAST FACTS which is overseen by the EVOS Trustee Council. •In 1989 the clean-up involved This settlement included a reopener clause to 11,000 people, 1,400 vessels and cover damages as a result of the spill that could 85 aircraft. not be anticipated in 2001. In 2006, the U.S. Justice •Logistics in the remote region Department and State of Alaska filed for an were a major challenge. additional $92 million to mitigate unanticipated •Clean-up costs between 1989 oil damage to beaches and herring. Exxon is and 1992 are estimated at $2.2 contesting payment. billion. On March 23, 1989, Oil traveled an estimated 470 miles in 56 days, a distance roughly •25,000 tons of oiled waste and Class Action Lawsuit: A 1994 jury awarded the oil tanker Exxon Valdez left the Valdez equivalent to a spill in New York Harbor reaching South Carolina. Blue areas illustrate that the oil slick spread over 11,000 sq. miles. hundreds of barrels of liquid $5 billion in punitive damages based on the Marine Terminal at 9:12 pm, bound for waste were buried in Oregon. determination that Exxon’s conduct was reckless. Map composite from an original map by ADEC The case remained in appeals courts for 14 California with a full load - approximately •About 3-11% of the oil was 53 million gallons - of North Slope crude WILDLIFE IMPACTS recovered. years until 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court awarded $507.5 million to the 32,000 plaintiffs, oil. The tanker Captain, Joe Hazelwood, Estimated loss of METHODS USED FOR CLEANUP including fishermen, cities, Native landowners, was granted permission to change course wildlife immediately and subsistence gatherers. The high court left the following the spill: In the early days, fishermen collected hundreds of to avoid icebergs from nearby Columbia issue of interest payments to be resolved by lower • 250,000 seabirds buckets of oil from the water while burning and courts, where it currently remains. Glacier. He gave orders to the Third Mate dispersants were tested, and boom, skimmers, • 2,800 sea otters to maneuver the tanker to the new course • 300 harbor seals and other equipment were flown to the Sound. This brochure was compiled by and then retired to his quarters. For Photo by EVOSTC • 250 bald eagles The primary approach to removing oil on the staff at the Prince William Sound reasons that remain unclear, the tanker • Up to 22 killer whales shore was spraying seawater to drive the oil Science Center, with assistance back into the sea where it was collected. Others from the Prince William Sound was never returned to its proper course. • Macroalgae and benthic invertebrates • Billions of herring and pink salmon eggs simply used shovels, buckets, and rakes to clean Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, EVOS Trustee Council and the Oil Just after midnight on March 24, the Exxon and till the beach. Valdez oil tanker grounded on Bligh Reef, ECONOMIC IMPACTS Bioremediation Spill Recovery Institute (OSRI). Funding for this agents were applied brochure was provided by OSRI. Photocopying of spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude Commercial fishing, tourism, and local economies with limited success this publication is permitted. were hit hard in the immediate aftermath of oil into Prince William Sound, the largest the oil spill. An estimated 40,000 commercial due to the cold An updated list of resources related to the Exxon oil spill in U.S. waters. fishermen lost at least one season, and tourism climate. Some Valdez Oil Spill is available online at: operators spent several years recovering from a clean-up methods downturn in bookings. Local economies turned may have caused www.pwssc.org Prince William Sound from space, 2008, NASA Visible Earth topsy-turvy in 1989 as clean-up operations displaced normal activities. harm of their own. Photo by EVOSTC LEGACY ORGANIZATIONS IMPROVEMENTS IN OPERATIONS & RESPONSE: National improvements in operations The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) is the most Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery and spill response resulted from changes to both federal and state legislation, in particular the Federal thoroughly studied spill, both in intensity and Institute was established by Congress in 1990 to Oil Pollution Act of 1990. duration. Our increased understanding of the focus on improving technologies and ecological 1989 2009 ecosystem, its inhabitants and how they are research related to oil pollution in the marine Single-hulled tankers Nearly all Prince William Sound (PWS) tankers are impacted by oil, and improvements in oil spill environment of Arctic and Subarctic regions. double-hulled or double-bottomed response technology are positive legacies of the (www.pws-osri.org) 1 escort tug with tanker through Valdez Narrows 2 escort tugs with laden tanker through the Sound spill. These three organizations help coordinate, 13 skimming systems capable of recovering 27,000 Over 100 skimming systems capable of recovering fund, and oversee this research: Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ barrels of oil in 72 hours (375 barrels/hr) 300,000 barrels of oil in 72 hours (4,167 barrels/hr) EVOS Trustee Council oversees the 1991 Advisory Council is an independent non- On-water storage capacity of 12,000+ barrels of oil On-water storage capacity of 900,000+ barrels of oil profit organization with a mission to promote $900 million civil settlement for restoration of Approximately 5 miles of poor quality boom Over 49 miles of various types of booms environmentally safe operation of Alyeska injured resources and services. The restoration No dispersant application systems available Dispersants with air and water applicators Pipeline’s Valdez Marine Terminal and associated plan includes habitat protection, research and oil tankers. (www.pwsrcac.org) Response drills every few years Annual major tanker drill, numerous smaller drills monitoring, and direct restoration. (www.evostc.state.ak.us) 10 fishing vessels under contract for response 350 fishing vessels under contract for response Terminal employees were response personnel Over 300 Ship Escort/Response Vessel System STATUS OF INJURED RESOURCES: Prior to the spill, knowledge of wildlife populations (SERVS) personnel dedicated to response was incomplete; our ability to understand the recovery is hampered by this lack of baseline data. The State oversight of Valdez terminal and tanker Joint Pipeline Office responsible for oversight, table below summarizes the current status of 31 resources monitored by the EVOS Trustee Council. operations (3 personnel) with 12 state and federal agencies represented Tankers monitored by Coast Guard through Valdez Tankers monitored on Automatic Identification NOT RECOVERY Narrows and Valdez Arm with outdated radar System through PWS and into the Gulf of Alaska RECOVERING RECOVERED RECOVERING UNKNOWN Pacific Herring Archaeological Barrow’s Goldeneye Cutthroat Trout OTHER IMPROVEMENTS: Pigeon Guillemont Resources Black Oystercatcher Kittlitz’s Murrelet • Creation of Regional Citizens’ Advisory • Ocean rescue tug Bald Eagle Harlequin Duck Marbled Murrelet Councils in Prince William Sound and Cook stationed at entrance to Common Murre Clams Rockfish Inlet for oversight of marine terminal and the Sound Common Loon Human Uses Subtidal Communities transportation operations • Officers on tankers Cormorants (3 species) Intertidal Communities • Ice radar for monitoring icebergs in tanker lanes tested for alcohol Dolly Varden Killer Whale (AB Pod) • Weather restrictions on tanker operations prior to each sailing Harbor Seal Marbled Murrelet • Contingency plan written to address a spill of up • Fixed radio repeater Pink Salmon Mussels to 809,000 barrels of oil system that enables River Otter Sea Otter • Response equipment staged in Valdez, Tatitlek, communication Sockeye Salmon Sediments Cordova, Chenega Bay, Whittier, salmon throughout the Sound Photo by D. Janka Wilderness Areas Photo by D. Janka Courtesy of PWSRCAC hatcheries, and at two remote sites in the Sound STATUS OF HABITAT: 650,000 acres of habitat important to the recovery of injured resources LINGERING OIL have been protected through a combination of land purchases and conservation easements. This A major unanticipated consequence of EVOS is how long oil persists and includes 1,400 miles of shoreline habitat and more than 300 salmon streams. remains toxic in the beach sediments of the oiled region. In a 2003 survey Knight Island, 2006 of the Sound, researchers estimated that approximately 21,000 gallons of STATUS OF COMMUNITIES: Residents still experience emotional and economic spill-related oil remained in beach sediments, with heavy oil persisting on beaches impacts. Tourism has rebounded and for the most part the commercial salmon fishery has recovered. where cobbles and boulders prevent the underlying sediments and oil However, the herring fishery has been closed for 14 of the past 16 years. Based on historic values, from dispersing. Much of the oil remains in its toxic, unweathered state, herring fishermen have lost over $137 million, and their permits, once worth $34 million, are now creating a hazard for intertidal foragers such as people, sea otters, sea worthless because the fishery is not likely to reopen in the coming decade. Local communities have ducks, and shorebirds. The oil is decreasing at a rate of 0-4% per year also lost significant raw fish tax revenues. Photo by K. Alexander and will take decades, possibly centuries, to disappear.