Legacy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
A special feature published by
the Anchorage Daily News.
March 21-24, 1999

For a complete history of the Exxon Valdez oil spill see Hard Aground, for archival news stories, photos and reference material.

Legacy of a Spill: Stories | Illustrations | Photos

Oil spill scarred otters
2 studies report long-term effects

Of the 37 sea otters that ended up in zoos and aquariums after surviving the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, all but nine are dead, researchers reported Friday.

Most of the ones that died in captivity over the past 10 years suffered "remarkably similar" fates to the ones that died while being treated in Valdez in the weeks after the spill, according to Terrie Williams, a biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Williams managed the sea otter center in Valdez in 1989.

[See Story]

News Photo
Sea otters, victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, recuperate at the rehab facility set up in a Kachemak Bay cove after the spill. JIM LAVRAKAS / Anchorage Daily News file photo

Attorneys general ask Exxon to pay up for spill

JUNEAU - The Knowles administration and attorneys general from three dozen states and territories Thursday urged Exxon Corp. to pay a $5 billion court-ordered judgment for damages caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

[See Story]

Spill funds aren't end of trouble
Money has downside, anthropologist says

Over the past five years, five Native communities have seen instant wealth trickle down from the money Exxon paid to atone for its 1989 oil spill. The windfall has fueled a spending spree on items like new television satellite dishes, computers, cars and skiffs, according to an anthropologist tracking the money.

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Sound use doubles since '89
News Photo


Kayak and recreational boater use in western Prince William Sound has more than doubled in the 10 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, according to a study by the U.S. Forest Service. And with the road to Whittier scheduled to open in the spring of 2000, the boaters are expected to keep coming.

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Margaret Roberts wipes a tear as she speaks about a rise in alcoholism and suicide she said resulted from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Roberts is president of the Kodiak Tribal Council and spoke at the Spenard Recreation Center on Wednesday as part of the program "A Native Perspective: Ten Years After the Oil Spill." (MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News)

Demonstrators nationwide take Exxon to task

The 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill was marked across the nation Wednesday by protests, some noisy and some understated, but all trying to highlight what they see as Exxon's sins.

In the San Francisco area, three Greenpeace members were arrested Wednesday morning for trespassing on a ship on Chevron Corp. property.

[See Story]

Looking on bright side
Global success of Oil Pollution Act praised

WASHINGTON - Congress was told Wednesday that the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, written in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, is working internationally to make tankers safer.

Coast Guard Commandant James Loy said the number of major spills has dropped by two-thirds since the law was passed.

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Safety in numbers
More gear and eyes boost vigilance in Sound

VALDEZ - Let the scientists and poets debate whether the oil spill forever changed Prince William Sound. In matters of tanker safety, everyone would have to agree that the changes since 1989 have been immense.

[See Story]

Double-hull tankers face slow going

Ten years after the Exxon Valdez spill, new tankers have yet to be added to the aging fleet sailing through Prince William Sound. Now oil companies are pressing for further delays to a congressional deadline for bringing safer double-hull ships to Alaska.

Citing economic reasons, Alaska's oil shippers in January asked the Coast Guard to let them extend the life of existing tankers an additional five years. They say the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which set a schedule for phasing out older single-hull tankers from U.S. ports, intended to allow such extensions if the older tankers are retrofitted with "double sides."

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News Photo
The tractor tug M/V Nanuq - the world's most powerful tractor tug - springs into action to counter the momentum of the tanker B.T. Alaska during a simulated rudder failure last month in Port Valdez. The state of the art Nanuq was specially built for the Valdez operations. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

Oil spill cleanup questions still prove vexing

VALDEZ - Last September, when a British Petroleum tanker spilled 13 million gallons of crude oil in the mouth of Prince William Sound, chemicals were quickly dumped from a plane to disperse some of the oil into the sea.

[See Story]

Citizen watchdogs, oil giants make no peace

Not even basic decisions escape scrutiny around the oil terminal in Valdez anymore.

Like a lot of companies in the suffering oil business, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is laying off employees, among them five emergency oil spill workers in Valdez.

[See Story]

Biologist sounds warning
Speaker says oceans face a disaster

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was not the most egregious accident to damage ocean waters, but "only one of many, many changes, the mass majority of which are incremental, invisible, sometimes irreversible ... and together quite insidious," according to Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University.

[See Story]

News Photo
Kenny Karabelnikoff of Anchorage listens to speakers at a candlelight vigil recognizing the 10-year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The vigil was Tuesday in Town Square in downtown Anchorage. (MARC LESTER / Anchorage Daily News)

The Activists

Riki Ott

As the Exxon Valdez sailed out of port on the evening of March 23, 1989, Riki Ott was talking over a speaker phone to a group of Valdez residents. At about 11 p.m., the biologist and environmental activist addressed the question of what would happen if there was a major spill.

[See Story]

Exxon critics push for state to resist merger with Mobil

Oil spill activists Tuesday stepped up their calls for the Knowles administration to take a stand against the Exxon-Mobil merger.

A coalition calling itself "the truth squad" wants federal regulators to halt the merger until Exxon pays $5.2 billion in damages a jury awarded to Alaskans hurt by the spill.

[See Story]

Still painful
10 years later, front-line spill workers link physical ailments to cleanup work

Garry Stubblefield of Granbury, Texas, speaks in short phrases between gasps for air. His doctors have told him his lungs have been damaged by chemical exposure and he is at risk of developing cancer.

Betty Carey of Ranchester, Wyo., suffers from memory loss. She has had a tumor removed from her neck and several odd lumps removed from her legs.

[See Story]

News Photo
An oil spill worker uses a pressure washer to wash oil from the beach on Smith Island in May 1989. (BOB HALLINEN / Daily News file photo)

Events mark oil-spill date
Symposium, candlelight vigil, protest among activities

A symposium and other events in Anchorage are marking the 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, and spilled 11 million gallons of oil.

[See Story]

Years later spill's toll still rising
$5 billion verdict is elusive dream

For many fishermen hit by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the payout of a $5 billion jury verdict against the oil company won't come soon enough.

It will be too late for Clarence and Nancy Lande, fishermen from Soldotna who filed for bankruptcy in 1994. It won't come soon enough for Tim and Mary Tirrell, slowly digging their way out of debt but refusing to surrender to bankruptcy.

[See Story]

News Photo
Donald Kompkoff lived in Chenega Bay before the March 24, 1989, oil spill. Today, he lives in Valdez, where he works on an oil-spill response vessel. (ERIK HILL / ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS)

Spill-linked fears color subsistence life

At home in Chenega Bay, Donald Kompkoff could look out his window and see what was fresh at the supermarket that day - what fish were jumping, what ducks were flying, what seals were spying from the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. He could grab his gun, some shells, salt and pepper and a big pot and head across the bay for supper. He couldn't imagine living any other way .

[See Story]

News Photo
The village of Tatitlek started oyster farming shortly before the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Rather than taking the place of subsistance resources it had lost, Tatilek considers the oysters as another resource, according to Gary Kompkoff, Tatilek village chief. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

The helmsman: Robert Kagen

The hand on the wheel of the Exxon Valdez as it approached Bligh Reef belonged to Robert Kagan, a 15-year veteran of the Exxon fleet who began his maritime career as a mess hand, cleaning rooms and serving dinner.

[See Story]

Oil critics demand safer tankers

VALDEZ - Oil industry representatives and government regulators gathered here Sunday to mark the progress made in preventing oil spills in the decade since the Exxon Valdez ran aground.

But a group of industry critics said those efforts have focused too much on cleaning up spills and not enough on preventing them.

[See Story]

Exxon Valdez
Legacy of a Spill

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Daily News begins four days of special coverage today on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The March 24, 1989, spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Within hours of the grounding, at least 11 million gallons gushed through the hull of the damaged tanker and into the famously clean water of Prince William Sound.

[See Story]


News Photo
Oil spills from the crippled tanker Exxon Valdez the morning it ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound almost 10 years ago.
ERIK HILL / Anchoarge Daily News


Researchers track crude's wandering trail

Tracking the fate of the oil from the Exxon Valdez begins at the moment of grounding - 12:04 a.m. on March 24, 1989. Within five hours of striking Bligh Reef, most of 11 million gallons had gushed out and surfaced. The slick spread relentlessly - "amoeba-like," according to one report - to cover about 120 square miles of open water near the tanker. For most of three days, the winds were calm. A significant fraction of the oil's volume would evaporate and be gone by the end of this period.

[See Story]

Sound battles back, but threats linger

A decade after the tanker Exxon Valdez ripped open on Bligh Reef and dumped at least 11 million gallons of North Slope crude, most of the oil has disappeared - dissolved and diluted by the relentless weather, collected and hauled or washed from blackened shores by workers.

[See Story]

Statewide meetings take 10th anniversary look at spill

The 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is being marked with symposiums this week in Valdez and Anchorage.

The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, a federally chartered watchdog agency, is holding a two-day session today and Monday at the Valdez Civic Center. Featured speakers today include U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who will speak on videotape, Agriculture Undersecretary Jim Lyons, and state Senate President Drue Pearce.

[See Story]

Where are they now?
The ship: Exxon Valdez

Nearly 10 years after the spill and wearing a different name on her bow, the arrival of the former Exxon Valdez in a Scottish port last month was enough to provoke angry protests among British environmentalists.

[See Story]

Where are they now?
The boss: Frank Iarossi

Exxon Shipping Co. president Frank Iarossi was a familiar face in the early days of the spill. He represented the company before hostile crowds at daily public briefings in Valdez.

It was Iarossi who disclosed the day after the spill that investigators had ruled out mechanical failure as a cause and were focusing on the actions of Capt. Joe Hazelwood, Third Mate Gregory Cousins and helmsman Robert Kagan.

[See Story]

Where are they now?
The Captain: Joseph Hazelwood

Joseph Hazelwood's career as a tanker captain ended when the Exxon Valdez fetched up hard aground on Bligh Reef.

Following his trial and misdemeanor conviction for negligent discharge of oil, Hazelwood briefly worked as an instructor at his alma mater, the Maritime College of the State University of New York in the Bronx, as a lobster fisherman in Long Island Sound, and as a boat transporter. But for the most part, he has earned a living as a maritime consultant and claims adjustor in the employ of the Manhattan law firm, Chalos and Brown, that has represented him in criminal and civil litigation since the spill. He continues to work there today.

[See Story]

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