1989: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

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1989: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Abstract: A tanker filled to capacity with crude oil ran aground and ruptured yesterday 25 miles from the southern end of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, spewing her cargo into water rich in marine life. (Shabecoff, 1989)

After oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the northern coast of Alaska in 1968, the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was formed by the owner companies: BP Exploration, ARCO, Exxon, Mobil, Amerada Hess, Phillips, and Union. Alyeska determined that the most economic method of transporting oil from Prudhoe Bay to the U.S. west coast was oil transport through a pipeline from the bay to Valdez, followed by oil tanker transport south. President Richard Nixon signed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act on November 16, 1973. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) consists of an extensive 800 mile pipeline (Figure 6.1), 11 pump stations, and an oil terminal at Valdez; it cost more than $8 billion to build (USDIBLM, 2005). 75

At the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, six contingency plans were in place to coordinate oil spill response efforts. On the national level, the National Response Team (NRT) provided national support for response actions related to oil discharges and hazardous substance releases. NRT supported emergency responders at all levels by means of technical expertise and equipment, assisted in the development of training, coordinated responses with neighboring countries, and managed the National Response System. NRT actions were to be primarily conducted through Regional Response Teams (RRT). The RRT plan for Prince William Sound outlined a system for mechanical oil removal as a primary spill response strategy, which included chemical dispersant preauthorization procedures and wildlife protection guidelines for an oil spill.…...

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