HARD AGROUND - Wreck of the Exxon Valdez - March 24, 1989

Contents

Home

Introduction
The Event
The Clean-Up
The Impact On Life
The Captain
The Ship
The Legal Battles
The Legacy

Links
Reading List
Image Gallery

Timeline
Maps

Search
ADN Archives

Permissions
User Agreement

Line

Sponsored by:
Anchorage
Daily News

Story Index:
Main | The Legal Battles
Overall: story 193 of 380 Previous Next
The Legal Battles story 8 of 87 Previous Next

EXXON ARRAIGNED, PLEADS NOT GUILTY

By RICHARD MAUER
Daily News reporter

Anchorage Daily News
Date: 04/10/90
Day: Tuesday
Edition: Final
Section: Metro
Page: B1

ANCHORAGE- Exxon Corp. and its shipping subsidiary pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday to criminal charges stemming from the nation's worst oil spill.

Exxon Corp. and the Exxon Shipping Co. each were charged with operating the Exxon Valdez with a "physically and mentally" incapable crew on March 24, 1989, when it left the shipping channel in Prince William Sound and ran aground on Bligh Reef, a charted navigation hazard.

The government charged that at least 36,000 migratory birds and 100 eagles were killed by the 11 million gallons of North Slope crude that spilled from the ruptured tanker. Biologists have estimated that the corpses held as evidence in the government's freezer vans represent 15 to 50 percent of the actual mortality, though Exxon has disputed those figures.

Exxon and Exxon Shipping Co. were charged with two felonies under federal maritime law for the alleged incompetent crew. They face a misdemeanor count for violations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and two misdemeanors for discharging the oil under the U.S. Clean Water Act and Refuse Act.

At the arraignment Monday, U.S. Magistrate John Roberts noted for the record that as corporations, Exxon and its subsidiary are not entitled to the same Fifth Amendment rights against selfincrimination as a person, which means the government can subpoena company records.

Outside the courtroom, Exxon Shipping Co. lawyer James Neal, of Nashville, Tenn., said the government's charges were a "novel" application of federal law. He said criminal charges were inappropriate under the circumstances.

"We recognize this was a tragic accident, but we didn't intend to spill any oil," Neal said.

When he announced the indictment in Washington on Feb. 27, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said Exxon could face fines of at least $600 million if convicted. A judge could also order Exxon to pay full restitution to the victims of the spill.

More than 1,000 miles of shore were tainted by the oil spill. In addition to the bird deaths, thousands of sea otters were believed to have been killed.

Exxon said it has spent $2 billion in the cleanup so far, and paid an additional $200 million in claims. The company is the defendant in some 170 lawsuits filed to recover additional damages.

The only individual to be charged as a result of the disaster was the skipper of the Exxon Valdez, Capt. Joseph Hazelwood. Last month, an Anchorage jury convicted Hazelwood of negligently discharging oil, but acquitted him of more serious charges of criminal mischief, operating the vessel while intoxicated, and reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to spend 1,000 hours cleaning up Prince William Sound and pay $50,000 in restitution. His attorneys said they will appeal.


Story Index:
Main | The Legal Battles
Overall: story 193 of 380 Previous Next
The Legal Battles story 8 of 87 Previous Next

   
Want to read more articles on this topic? ADNSearch.com has full-text articles published in the Anchorage Daily News Text Archives from late 1985 to the present - available to you with the click of your mouse. Make the Anchorage Daily News your source for Alaska and Anchorage history. Check out www.adnsearch.com right now!
All components of this site are copyright 1989-1999 by the Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Alaska unless otherwise noted. Unauthorized reproduction or use of any material available from this site is strictly prohibited. For information on obtaining reprints of, or republication rights to any of these materials, see Permissions.
We welcome your comments or questions regarding this site - webteam@adn.com
Anchorage Daily News Alaska's Eyewitness to History