1989: Cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez
• The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue and excessive workload.• Captain Joe Hazelwood -- who had a history of drinking problems, even losing his driver's license three times for drunk driving offences -- was seen drinking prior to boarding the ship. He admitted having several drinks while on board and had alcohol in his blood several hours after the incident. Hazelwood was charged with operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, but was acquitted. • The Exxon Valdez was repaired and renamed the SeaRiver Mediterranean before going back into service. As of 2009, it was still carrying oil between Europe and Asia. The ship never returned to Alaska; the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 prevents any ship that has ever spilled more than 1 million gallons from entering Prince William Sound. • As a result of the spill, ExxonMobil paid approximately US $3.4 billion in fines and lawsuits. It also paid another $1 billion for cleanup efforts. • As of 2009, 20 years after the spill, the Exxon Valdez disaster ranks as the biggest oil spill in U.S. waters, but now ranks far down the list of biggest spills in history. In 1991, during its occupation of Kuwait, the Iraqi Army destroyed wells, tankers and other facilities, spilling as much as 1.7 billion litres of oil. The worst maritime spill was the 1978 sinking of the Amoco Cadiz, which spilled 260 million litres of oil into French coastal waters.
• The master failed to provide a proper navigation watch, possibly due to impairment from alcohol.
• Exxon Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez.
• The U.S. Coast Guard failed to provide an effective vessel traffic system.
• Effective pilot and escort services were lacking.
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 25, 1989
Guest(s): Lucien Bouchard, Steve Cowper, Frank Iarossi, Bill Vander Zalm
Host: Don Goodwin
Reporter: Ian Hanomansing
Last updated: November 3, 2014
Page consulted on January 5, 2015
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