BP AND THE LEGACY OF THE
March 22 is the Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez, one of the
most devastating oil spills in history.
The Exxon Valdez came aground in Prince William Sound just
after midnight in March 1989. What followed was one of the worst environmental
disasters to hit US shores. 10.8 million barrels of oil (roughly the volume of
125 Olympic-size swimming pools) was poured out into the sea.
The spill was only the 34th largest ever recorded, but the timing, the remote location and
the abundant wildlife combined to make a particularly
disastrous combination. Wildlife deaths were enormous – a quarter of a million
sea birds alone. Of the 23 species injured by the spill, only two were declared
fully "recovered" 10 years later.
Exxon was fined $150 million, the largest fine ever imposed
for an environmental crime. The court forgave $125 million of the fine in
recognition of Exxon’s cooperation in clearing up the spill and settling
private claims. Exxon also agreed to pay $100 million in restitution for
injuries caused to wildlife and $900 million over 10 years as part of the civil
However, BP is also to blame for the disaster. BP after all had the controlling interest in the Alaska Pipeline System. Furthermore, 50% of the oil spilled by the Valdez was from BP. BP is the main oil company pushing to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and already has one oil drilling site in the arctic, the Northstar platform and plan to build another, the Liberty later this year.