Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred on March 23,1989. It was a late Saturday evening . The Supertanker Exxon Valdez, moved slowly away from the docking port in Valdez, Alaska. The tanker was longer than three football fields and filled with 53 million gallons of crude oil from the Trans-Alaska pipeline.
Joseph Hazelwood was the captain of the giant ship. Just a little after midnight on March 24, 1989 he left the bridge in pitch dark hours of early morning. An unqualified third mate steered the vessel for a full two miles off course before the mistake was noticed.
A seaman then yelled, "We're off course , turn around!" It was too late. They needed a good two miles to stop. Another said, "We're going to hit shallow . We could sink." The ship ran aground onto the waiting reef. After a few hits the ship's hull opened wide. The oil poured out spilling into the clear waters of Prince William Sound, 25 miles from port.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was the worst oil spill in United States history. Ten hours after the accident, it was determined the captain was drunk during the accident. This oil spill would destroy much of Alaska's fishing. The clean-up crew tried to use dispersants, but didn't have enough to clean up an oil spill that large. Dead birds were everywhere along with many other animals. Birds' feathers that normally protected them from the cold and weather were ineffective as the oil covered them. They were helpless. Most of them froze on shore or drowned in the water as the oil weighed them down.
After many weeks of cleanup President Bush ordered federal help in the cleanup. Eleven million barrels of oil had been spilled into the Alaskan waters.
The picture shows workers working on the massive
cleanup after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Shown above is an example of the effect that the
oil had on birds and other animals.
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