Exxon Valdez - Legacy of a Spill

May 13, 1999

Legacy of a Spill: Stories | Illustrations | Photos

Where are they now?
The ship: Exxon Valdez

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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.

The 984-foot tanker, the pride of the pipeline terminus when it first sailed into Valdez in 1986, had trouble just finding a port for repairs after the oil spill in Prince William Sound. Exxon first considered taking the tanker to Portland, Ore., for repairs, but the Coast Guard and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality feared residual oil in the vessel might pollute the Columbia River.

Instead, the damaged tanker, trailing containment boom and flanked by a small armada of tugs, Coast Guard vessels and watchful environmentalists in sailboats, entered the San Diego shipyard for repairs on July 30, 1990. The Exxon Valdez, renamed the Exxon Mediterranean, emerged 11 months and $30 million in repairs later.

Now renamed SeaRiver Mediterranean and owned by an Exxon subsidiary, the tanker ferries crude among ports in the Mediterranean. It has never returned to Alaska: Sen. Ted Stevens inserted a provision in the 1990 Oil Pollution Act permanently barring any vessel that has spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil from Prince William Sound.

SeaRiver Mediterranean is the only U.S. tanker that fits that description. A federal judge upheld the ban last year.

"If I had my way, it would never come back to Prince William Sound," Stevens said in 1990. "There is no lesson learned from a second kick of a mule."

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Legacy of a Spill: Stories | Illustrations | Photos

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