Oil Spill Ecosystem Disasters

By: Elizabeth Flores

When/Where did the Oil Spill Occur?

This environmental catastrophe happened on March 24, 1989 in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

How did the Accident Happen?

Shortly after midnight on March 24, the super tanker (Exxon Valdez) collided with Bligh Reef, a well know navigation hazard. The collision ruptured eight of the eleven cargo tanks and spilled nearly eleven million gallons of crude oil into Sound's pristine sea.

What damage did it cause to the Local Environment?

The oil spill resulted in many deaths of native animals in Prince William Sound's sea. Approximately two thousand sea otters, three hundred harbor seals and two hundred and fifty thousand seabirds died in the days immediately following the spill. Unfortunately, even more than a decade later there are still significant amounts of oil in the water and people fear the long term impacts may be even worse than they previously thought.

What Methods were used to Clean it up? What were the Lasting Effects of the Spill?

They used the burning, mechanical cleanup as well as some chemical dispersants to clean up the spill. Unfortunately, there are still some lasting effects even after more than twenty years later. Some of the lasting are: fishermen are still waiting for their fishing stocks to return to pre-oil spill levels, and in the years following 1989, exxon now runs yearly spill drills as well some other companies.