Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The Exxon Valdez was responsible for the worst oil spill in United States History. On March 23, 1989, the supertanker was carrying over 53 million gallons of crude oil when it struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Nearly 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the Sound. The resulting disaster and cleanup exceeded the cost and scope of any other oil spill before the Valdez disaster.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that human error was largely to blame for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Crew fatigue and an excessive workload were one of the factors that contributed to the disaster. Most outrageously, the NTSB found that the ship’s master, Joseph Hazelwood, had been drinking prior to the accident, and alcohol impairment could have played a part in the oil spill.

The affect of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on the fragile environment in and around Prince William Sound was both sudden and long lasting. Thousands of animals died immediately. As many as 500,000 seabirds, 300 harbor seals and 22 orcas were killed by the spill. Untold billions of salmon and herring eggs were destroyed — an event that still affects the area’s fishing industry to this day. The affects of the Valdez spill are still being felt, as researchers have noted that some animal populations have yet to recover to their pre-spill numbers. This has been most apparent in the herring, pink salmon and mussel populations of Prince William Sound, once one of the region’s most important economic engines. As a result, the fishing industry, most notably the $16 million herring fisheries, all but collapsed after the oil spill. It is thought that it could take more than 30 years before the seafood industry in the area fully recovers from the Valdez spill.

The human consequences of the Valdez oil spill have been just as far reaching. There is growing evidence that cleanup workers are suffering from debilitating illnesses as a result of their exposure to the toxic sludge left behind by the spill. Since the spill, more than 6,000 workers have filed claims for respiratory problems. Reports of skin rashes, chronic headaches and stomach problems are also prevalent among the workers and people living in the area. On top of that, many Sound residents have reported psychological problems as a result of the economic uncertainty that was brought on by the Valdez spill.

Parker Waichman LLP provides a free initial legal consultation for victims of oil spill damages. The firm only gets paid if you win compensation. Contact Parker Waichman LLP today to explore the legal remedies available to you. Fill out our online form, or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636) to speak to a lawyer at our firm.