American oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, hit a reef in Prince William Sound.
It hit shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989. The tanker started
to leak for two days before it was noticed. It had spilled 11 million gallons
(42 million liters) of crude oil. This was 260,000 barrels of oil.
The largest spill in U.S. history covered more than 1,000 miles (1,600
km) of Alaska coastline. This included many islands. It caused an estimated
$3 billion to $15 billion in environmental damages. The spill of
the Exxon Valdez killed hundreds of thousands of fish and seabirds and
thousands of otters. The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was not prepared
for the cleanup of this disaster. The tanker's captain, Joseph J. Hazelwood,
had reportedly been drinking before the accident and had given control
to the third mate. Hazelwood was ordered to pay $5 billion for carelessness
damages to Alaskan fisherman. The Exxon Valdez's cleanup efforts continued
for ten years after the spill.
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