Going about twelve miles per hour, the doubt of a oil spill was highly unlikely. But, when the oil tanker hit Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the worst oil spill in United States history occurred. Consequently, more than eleven million gallons of oil spued into the ocean. In addition, more than thirteen hundred miles of shoreline was coated with oil. Furthermore, the slick would have covered more than three football fields in width. It was the fifty-third ranked spill in the world and the worst the United States has ever seen. Many places would be contaminated by the oil.
Not only did the oil spill into the ocean, it also got on shore. More than one thousand miles of shore line was hit by the oil. It hurt the small towns along Alaska, Canada, and even parts of Russia that depend on fishing and the sea life. Many species were affected by it.
The disaster destroyed many sea creatures. More than 250,000 birds were wiped out. Over 2,800 sea otters were killed. Analysis showed that there are two recovered species. These species are the bald eagle and the river otter. Also, there are eight recovering species. These are the black oystercatcher, common murre, marbled murrelet, mussel, Pacific herring, pink salmon, sea otter, sockeye salmon, and intertidal and subtidal flora and fauna. Unfortunate, there are six unrecovered species. Common loon, cormorant, harbor seal, harlequin duck, pigeon guillemot, and others are among these. In addition, there are four species of unknown recovery. They include the cutthroat trout, dolly varden, kittlitz’s murrelet, and rockfish. Not only were the fish affected, but also the
Thousands of fisherman were hurt by the spill. In fact, more than 10,000 fisherman that work the waters of Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, and Kodiak Island received money from Exxon. Exxon estimated that the losses to commercial fisheries amounted to $113 million. Exxon paid the fisherman $286.8 million in compensatory damages. Because of the s...
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...more than $2.1 billion in cleanup costs in the first two years after the disaster. Surprisingly, only about fourteen percent of the oil was recovered by cleanup crews. Cleaning and natural degradation removed much of the oil from the beaches, but visually identifiable surface and subsurface oil persists at many locations. Of the approximate 1,300 miles of shorelines, 200 miles of it was considered heavy or medium oiling. The rest of the shorelines were considered light or very light oiling. So what happened to the 10.8 million gallons of oil released into the environment? Based on surveys, most of the oil either evaporated, dispersed into the water column, or degraded naturally. Cleanup crews just got fourteen percent of it while thirteen percent of it sunk to the sea floor. About two percent remains on the beaches.
March 24, 1989 is a date no one will forget. As the worst oil spill ever to hit America, many sea creatures lost their life and humans lost their source of work and food. A lesson can be learned from the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez. It is too bad it was learned with the expense of thousands of sea creatures.
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