The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a costly event that affected not only the people and company involved but also the environment. It costed the company billions of dollars in damages. The once serene Prince William Sound is changed forever. The disastrous event of the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened on March 24, 1989. The Exxon Valdez was traveling through the Prince William Sound, located on the northernmost part of the Gulf of Alaska that borders the Chugach National Forest, when it struck the Bligh Reef (Liszka 1-30). The ship, heading to Long Beach, California, had a total of 53,094,510 gallons of crude oil (State of Alaska). Of that, eleven to thirty-two million gallons spilt into the Sound, making it one of the greatest environmental disasters…show more content…
Countless aquatic animals lost their lives and greatly affected their populations. Some of those animals includes: mussels, clams, bivalves, snails, sea stars, and crabs. Pink salmon and over one third of their spawning were affected by the oil, later causing major declines of their population in following years. In the area of the Prince William Sound, of the thirty-six known killer whales in the area, seven went missing after the spill. A year after the spill, six more of the killer whales had disappeared. Not only were aquatic animals affected but also so were aquatic plants: fucus seaweed, kelp, and eelgrass. Thousands of land animals were affected by the deadly spill. A list of some animals includes: twenty thousand common murres, twelve to fourteen thousand marbled murrelets, eight hundred thirty-eight cormorants, two hundred harlequin ducks, three hundred pigeon guillemots, and four hundred loons. Over one thousand otter carcasses were found and an estimated two thousand eight hundred died from the spill. As a direct result of the spill, roughly three hundred harbour seals died. The oil spill later on caused a collapse of the Pacific Herrings’ population because nearly half of their eggs laid in 1989 were exposed to the oil (Liszka 1-30). These deadly outcomes changed their environment…show more content…
The three methods used to clean up the spill were burning, mechanical cleanup, and chemical dispersants. A trial burn was done in the early stages. Yet with the uncooperative weather, burning was not able to be a continual option. Booms and skimmers were used for mechanical cleanup. The booms and skimmers, though, tended to get clogged by the thick oil. Chemical cleanup was also given a trial run by the U.S. Coast Guard. However, the current of the water was not enough to evenly distribute the dispersants that were supposed to break down the oil and it only added to the amount of pollutants in the Sound (EPA). It is found in recent studies that on select beaches in the sound are still polluted by large amounts of remaining oil deposits (Liszka 1-30). In the end, the Exxon Valdez oil spill was an expensive disastrous accident that continues to affect the people, company, and environment. The Coast Guard and country must be more strict with the transportation of such harmful liquid. As well as, the companies must follow the rules and guidelines to decrease the chances of another spill
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