30 Days to Exxon Valdez 30 - Oceana USA


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30 Days to Exxon Valdez 30


We’re counting down the thirty days to the 30th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, with a specific story or idea tied to each day from 30 to 1. All posts are also on our Oceana Pacific Facebook and Twitter pages here, and you can also check out our offshore drilling campaign to learn more about Oceana’s work to prevent another spill in our oceans.

DAY 30: Intro

Thirty years ago, on March 24th, the Exxon Valdez spilled a devastating amount of oil into Prince William Sound. For 30 days we’re counting down to that terrible anniversary with stories and images from the spill. #ExxonValdez #30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day30

DAY 29: Radio Call

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day29: The Exxon Valdez spill began with a 29 second radio call at 12:26 AM on March 24, 1989. What followed is one of the worst human and ecological disasters in our nation’s history. This is just the beginning… #ExxonValdez


DAY 28: Sea Otters

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day28: The Exxon Valdez spill killed 2,800 sea otters, which rely on their dense fur for warmth and preen themselves constantly, a deadly combination when covered with oil. WARNING: The video below is difficult to watch. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 27: Spill Extent

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day27: A storm blew in on March 27, 1989, hampering already disjointed cleanup efforts and spreading oil to beaches and out to sea. Oil would extend more than 470 miles. We still can’t clean up oil in the ocean, especially during bad weather. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 26: Fisheries

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day26: The Exxon Valdez spill destroyed billions of herring eggs, crashing the herring population. The herring fishery—central to the local economy—has been closed for the last 26 years. It may never open again. #ExxonValdez


DAY 25: Seabirds

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day25: 250,000 seabirds died as a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, despite extraordinary efforts from volunteers to clean and save birds. There’s still no good way to help a bird once it gets oiled. WARNING: The video below is difficult to watch. #ExxonValdez#ProtectOurCoast


DAY 24: First 24 Hours

#30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day24: The first 24 hours after the spill were rife with confusion. Local fishermen volunteered help that was never accepted. Best laid plans quickly proved unfeasible. The oil slick expanded at a rate of nearly half a football field per second, and continued expanding at that rate for two and a half days. The video below contains audio and transcripts of phone conversations involving Don Cornett, Alaska Coordinator for Exxon USA at the time of the spill. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 23: Fishermen’s Blockade

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day23: After the herring crash in 1993, more than 60 fishing boats blockaded the port of Valdez in protest. Tankers were kept from the port for three days until the protest ended on Aug 23. This was only one example of the incredibly active protests from local people around the Exxon Valdez oil spill. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast

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DAY 22: Orcas

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day22: Before the Exxon Valdez spill the population of the unique “AT1 pod” of orcas was stable at 22. Nine disappeared in the winter after the spill, and the pod is now down to at most seven orcas. Not one calf has been born since the spill, and the two remaining females are too old to reproduce. Orcas use unique calls and pods have their own language; soon the songs in the video below will never be heard again. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 21: Vessel’s History

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day21: In 1990 the repaired Exxon Valdez was renamed Exxon Mediterranean, and returned to the sea. Exxon sued the government to bring the vessel back to Alaska, though thankfully judges denied that request. Yet the vessel still sailed the world for 21 more years before finally being destroyed in 2011. As quoted in Nature, “The Oriental Nicety (née Exxon Valdez), born in 1986 in San Diego, California, has died after a long struggle with bad publicity.” #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast

NATURE: Exxon Valdez Laid To Rest


DAY 20: Deepwater Horizon

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day20: After the Exxon Valdez spill a number of laws were created to help prevent future disasters. Yet such disasters seem inevitable when we drill for oil in the ocean, and history came calling on April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon began spewing oil in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf before it was all over. https://usa.oceana.org/…/time-action-six-years-after-deepwa…#ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast #WillWeEverLearn?

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DAY 19: Exxon’s Broken Promises

#30DaystoExxonValdez #Day19: “We will…make you whole.” Infamous words in Alaska after Exxon spent 19 years fighting against paying damages to the people whose lives were changed forever by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVjgsKdEqWI


DAY 18: Solomon Islands Oil Spill

Spilled oil spreading far and wide. Local people feeling increasingly desperate and displaced. Companies arguing over blame and abdicating responsibility. Cleanup efforts that are agonizingly slow. It’s happening now in the Solomon Islands, but feels sadly familiar to those who remember the #ExxonValdez#30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day18 #ProtectOurCoast 

GUARDIAN: “We Cannot Swim, We Cannot Eat”: Solomon Islands struggle with nation’s worst oil spill


DAY 17: Safety Waivers for Current Drilling

#30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day17: There have been almost 1,700 waivers to safety regulations granted to offshore oil drillers by the Trump administration’s Interior Department. Most if not all were for new rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. We continue to not learn the lessons of the #ExxonValdez, Deepwater Horizon or other oil disasters. #ProtectOurCoast 

POLITICO: Interior Hands Out Nearly 1,700 Waivers to Offshore Drilling Safety Rules


DAY 16: Cleanup and Health Effects on Cleanup Workers

#30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day16: Exxon paid spill cleanup workers $16.69 an hour, welcome income for many after the spill affected their ability to fish or harvest foods. Yet for some the cost was much greater. Workers exposed to oil and chemicals complained of breathing issues, headaches, rashes and nausea. Exxon continually denied that illnesses were a result of the toxicity of cleaning up oil, and never released internal records of thousands of medical complaints the year of the spill. Some workers would die unusually young; others still live with lingering health issues. #ExxonValdez #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 15: Ongoing 15-Year Spill in Gulf of Mexico

In 2004 an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico collapsed during Hurricane Ivan. The Department of Justice estimates that between 10,000 and 30,000 gallons of oil have been leaking from it every day for the last 14 years. With no fix in sight, and the owner Taylor Energy fighting responsibility in court, this slow-motion catastrophe will likely soon enter its 15th year, and surpass Deepwater Horizon as the largest oil spill in American history.  #Day15 #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #ProtectOurCoast

CNN: An oil spill you’ve never heard of could become one of the biggest environmental disatsers in the US


DAY 14: Spills Between Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon

We all remember #ExxonValdez and Deepwater Horizon, but may not recall the ones in between. Deepwater was not the next spill, it was the 14th major spill in U.S. marine waters after Exxon Valdez. There have been more since. We spill oil in the ocean a lot more than we may realize. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day14 #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 13: 1,300 Miles of Shoreline Fouled With OIl

The #ExxonValdez spill fouled more than 1,300 miles of beaches and shoreline with oil. Despite efforts to clean it up, oil remains on many beaches to this day, 30 years later. No one knows for sure if or when it will ever be fully gone. #30daystoExxonValdez30 #Day13 #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 12: Wreck of the Kulluk

On New Year’s Eve of 2012, the oil drilling rig Kulluk ran aground on Sitkalidak Island in the Gulf of Alaska after a storm blew in while it was being towed to Seattle. This was just the latest in a comedy of errors during Shell Oil’s attempts to drill in the Arctic. We are still woefully unprepared to deal with the dangers of drilling for oil in the Arctic, and there is still no way to clean up an oil spill or adequately respond to any other such accidents in icy Arctic waters. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day12 #ExxonValdez#ProtectOurCoast 

New York Times: The Wreck of the Kulluk


DAY 11: 11 Million Gallons Spilled

The #ExxonValdez spilled almost 11 million gallons of oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound and beyond. Most of it spilled within the first six hours, between the midnight grounding and 6 AM. Much of it is still there. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day11 #ProtectOurCoast


DAY 10: Subsistence Losses

“All the smokehouses are empty here.” The #ExxonValdez spill dramatically impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people who practiced subsistence activities, not only by destroying much of the local subsistence foods, but undermining the faith in those foods ever being healthy again. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day10 #ProtectOurCoast



DAY 9: Undermanned Crew

An undermanned crew with little sleep. A captain who had been drinking and was not on the bridge. An unqualified third mate behind the wheel who had been working for 18 hours and was the only officer on the bridge. The #ExxonValdez set sail around 9pm on March 23, 1989. A series of systemic and human failures led to it running aground about three hours later, the start of a human and environmental catastrophe. #30DaystoExxonValdez30#Day9 #ProtectOurCoast 

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council: Details About The Accident

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DAY 8: Lingering Oil

Thirty years later, oil from the #ExxonValdez spill lingers in Prince William Sound, often less than eight inches below the surface of beaches. This key finding from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s research and monitoring program raises the idea that long term effects of an oil spill linger for years after the short-term crisis seemingly ends. Another reminder of the potential long term costs of offshore oil drilling. #30DaystoExxonValdez30#Day8 #ProtectOurCoast 

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council: Lingering Oil

Location of shoreline segments surveyed in 2001, 2003, and 2007

DAY 7: Increased Safety Measures

As a direct result of the #ExxonValdez oil spill, oil tankers now have double hulls and there are seven times more containment booms in Prince William Sound then at the time of the Exxon Valdez. Yet there’s still no way to prepare for inevitable human error, and even 30 years later there’s still no way to effectively clean up oil once it spills in the ocean. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day7 #ProtectOurCoast

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council: Spill Prevention and Response

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DAY 6: Exxon Profits

Exxon earned a quarterly profit of $6 billion in the last quarter of 2018. This was actually down from a year ago. Yet as we’ll see in tomorrow’s post, this enormous corporation fought for 19 years against paying restitution to fishermen and small local communities for the life-altering damages caused by the #ExxonValdez oil spill. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day6#ProtectOurCoast 

CNBC: Exxon Posts Big Quarterly Profits


DAY 5: Exxon vs. The People

“Crime pays, and environmental crime pays really well.” Between the $5 billion awarded by an Anchorage jury in 1994 to $500 million decided by the Supreme Court in 2008, Exxon spent years fighting against paying damages to 32,677 fishermen, Alaska Natives and local businesses for the #ExxonValdez spill. More than 3,000 of them died before the case was resolved. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day5 #ProtectOurCoast

Seattle Times: Supreme Cout Drastically Cuts Payments for Plaintiffs in Exxon Valdez Oil Spill


DAY 4: State Opposition to Offshore Drilling

Of the four new presidential administrations since the #ExxonValdez spill, none have been as radically focused on opening our offshore waters to expanded oil drilling as the current Trump administration. But local states are fighting back – all but four U.S. Pacific or Atlantic coastal states have passed or are considering state legislation that opposes offshore drilling in state waters. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day4 #ProtectOurCoast

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DAY 3: Three Disasters and the Coming Trump Plan

Santa Barbara, 1969. #ExxonValdez, 1989. Deepwater Horizon, 2010. Three of the worst marine oil spills in U.S. history, each about 20 years apart from each other. Each time we swore it wouldn’t happen again. Each time we changed laws and practices, and things did improve. Yet oil drilling seems to keep leading to oil spilling in our oceans. Soon the Trump administration will release their new plan for offshore drilling, and we will need your help to prevent another name from joining this infamous trio. https://usa.oceana.org/our-campa…/offshore_drilling/campaign #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day3#ProtectOurCoast

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DAY 2: Two Coming Chances to Make Your Voice Heard

There are two upcoming chances to help make sure the lessons of the #ExxonValdez are not forgotten: the Trump administration will soon be taking public comment on their Five Year Plan for offshore drilling, and among the first lease sales offered in that plan will be in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea. Individually we can all take action to reduce our dependence on oil, but–as many communities and states already have–we’re going to have to come together collectively to protect our shared ocean resources from the dangers of offshore oil drilling. We’ll want to hear YOUR voice! Keep an eye on this space for future details. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day2 #ProtectOurCoast

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DAY 1: It Only Takes One…

Oil tankers had safely passed through Prince William Sound more than 8,700 times over 12 years before the #ExxonValdez oil spill. While local fishermen and some others had expressed concerns, most people believed such a disaster could never happen. Yet it did. It only took ONE accident to permanently damage Prince William Sound, kill countless fish, birds and mammals and devastate the lives and livelihoods of local people. We simply cannot afford another one. #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #Day1 #ProtectOurCoast

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DAY 0: 30 Year Anniversary

30 years ago today the #ExxonValdez ran aground, and would ultimately spill millions of gallons into Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska. The spill devastated local communities, wildlife populations and marine ecosystems; many have still not fully recovered.We must never forget the lessons of that terrible day, and do all we can to prevent another catastrophe off our coast. https://usa.oceana.org/30-days-exxon-valdez-30 #30DaystoExxonValdez30 #ProtectOurCoast