(NOAA). Prince William Sound was also the site of a massive oil spill on March 24, 1989, when an Exxon Corporation tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on Bligh Reef. This experience gave little reason to suspect impending disaster. Other researchers have located surprising pockets of oil remaining on some beaches, and these are being studied to determine why they have persisted for over two decades. The oil had spilled from the tanker. However, organisms from both types of oiled sites showed parallelism (i.e., recovery) with unoiled populations on a similar time frame (by 1992-93). Approximately 11 million gallons of oil spilled into the Sound’s rich and productive waters. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred when an oil tanker crashed onto the shore of Prince William Sound in Alaska on March 24, 1989. Nearly 19 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court would hear one of the final lawsuits left lingering from the nation's worst environmental disaster. A commonly used definition, the \"return to conditions as they were before the spill,\" is not realistic for dynamic intertidal systems such as those in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contaminated 1,300 miles of coastline with 250,000 barrels or 11 million gallons of oil. Ecological recovery can be difficult to define and measure. PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, ALASKA' DAVID B. Prince William Sound Subarea Plan Information. At 12:04 am on March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef off Prince William Sound, Alaska resulting in one of the largest oil spills in United States history. Some anniversaries are somber, not celebratory. Through a long-term monitoring program and related research projects, NOAA continues to study the aftermath of the spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, so that we can improve the way we respond to oil spills. That’s unquestionably the case as we approach the 29 th anniversary of the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill. The spill was the largest in U.S. history and tested the abilities of local, national, and industrial organizations to prepare for, and respond to, a disaster of such magnitude. Exxon Valdez: Animal populations in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Parallelism is a statistical test we used to measure whether abundances of plants and animals at oiled sites changed over time in a manner similar to those at unoiled sites. Prince William Sound council spokeswoman Brooke Taylor wrote in response to questions about the spill regulation scoping that the council is encouraged by Brune’s commitment to hold an extended comment period on any changes that are proposed but is still concerned about the broader process … Prince William Sound was also the site of a massive oil spill on March 24, 1989, when an Exxon Corporation tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on Bligh Reef. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Refugio State Beach Oil Spill Near Santa Barbara, California, Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA). Delayed efforts to contain the spill and naturally strong winds and waves dispersed some 10.9 million gallons of North Slope crude oil across the sound. Thousands of workers and volunteers helped to clean up after the oil spill, and Exxon provided $2.1 billion in funding. The Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council was formed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill to provide a voice for citizens affected by decisions related to the Alyeska pipeline terminal and associated tankers. Juvenile clams generally are more susceptible than the adults shown here. Strictly construed, recovery from the Exxon Valdez oil spill will not be complete until every portion of the ecosystem has recovered. Even though our study of intertidal communities reflected broad recovery in those communities by 1993, the other studies showed varying degrees of recovery for other resources. Analysis of results from the first years of the NOAA monitoring program in Prince William Sound indicated that oiled and hot-water washed (a response technique applied during the Exxon Valdez spill) sites initially suffered more severe declines in population abundance than oiled and not-washed sites. A 25-year timeline showing the recovery status of species and habitats affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, discharging at least 10.8 million gallons of crude oil in one of the largest spills in U.S. history. Ecological recovery can be difficult to define and measure. After evidence suggested that Joseph J. Hazelwood, the ship’s captain, had been drinking before the accident, Exxon terminated his employment. A commonly used definition, the "return to conditions as they were before the spill," is not realistic for dynamic intertidal systems such as those in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It has been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster, which devastated wildlife in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Oil leaks from the Exxon Valdez after it ran aground in March 1989; 11 million gallons of crude eventually leaked into Prince William Sound, Alaska. 1 - Introduction (PDF 1.3M) A - Response (PDF 291K) B - Resources (PDF 3.9M) C - Hazmat (PDF 3.3M) D - Sensitive Areas (PDF 2.6M) E - Background (PDF 4.6M) F - Scenarios (PDF 1.2M) G - Geographic Response Strategies (PDF 551K) H - Potential Places of Refuge Tankers carrying North Slope crude oil had safely transited Prince William Sound more than 8,700 times in the 12 years since oil began flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline, with no major disasters and few serious incidents. Located in Cordova, Alaska in the Prince William Sound area. Privacy Policy | Get Email Updates | Website Survey Online access : Not yet available online: Secondary Sources. The Valdez spill is the second largest i… Many other recovery studies have focused on other portions of the ecosystem and other affected habitats, and as a result, there are many assessments of recovery status from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Recommissioned the Exxon Mediterranean, it worked the Mediterranean Sea until single-hulled vessels were banned from European waters. In 1989, an Exxon tanker spilled millions of gallons of toxic oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. The damaged oil tanker Exxon Valdez, towed out of Alaska's Prince William Sound by a tugboat and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, on June 23, 1989. Parallelism-determined recovery of oiled intertidal populations occurred for most study species by 1992-1993. America’s Second-Worst Oil Spill Is Still Scarring the Shores of Alaska. That is, the washed sites had a steeper path to recovery than sites that were not washed. The Exxon Valdez itself was repaired and returned to service but was legally prohibited by a clause in the Oil Pollution Act from ever reentering Prince William Sound. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) eventually assigned most of the blame for the oil spill to Exxon, citing its incompetent and overworked crew. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In some cases, continuing differences between oiled and unoiled sites suggested incomplete recovery when the NOAA monitoring ended in 2000. The tiny fishing town of Cordova, Alaska, has weathered disruption in every facet of life since an oil tanker ran aground in 1989, spilling millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. Go back to the main Exxon Valdez oil spill page. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in March 1989 in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and was one of the worst environmental disasters on record in the United States. Through the Oil Spill Response Operations program, the Council monitors activities related to the operational readiness of oil spill response personnel, equipment, and organization of the trans-Alaskan pipeline shipping industry. PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND SCP July 1997 Change 3 - October 2014 vi UNIFIED PLAN and SUBAREA CONTINGENCY PLANS Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which An evaluation of marine bird population trends following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Prince William Sound, Alaska. Exxon Valdez oil spill, massive oil spill that occurred on March 24, 1989, in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The councils were established by Congress following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Updates? Delayed efforts to contain the spill and naturally strong winds and waves dispersed some 10.9 million gallons of North Slope crude oil across the sound. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens emerged as a strong proponent of securing federal funds to pay for the damage. The board also faulted the U.S. Coast Guard for an inadequate system of traffic regulation. Prince William Sound Subarea Plan. Click graphic to see a detailed subarea map (PDF 613K) This plan has been superseded, to view current plans visit the Oil And Hazardous Substance Response Plans webpage. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 24, 1989, when Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company, bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound's Bligh Reef, 1.5 mi (2.4 km) west of Tatitlek, Alaska, at 12:04 a.m. and spilled 10.8 million US gallons (260,000 bbl) (or 37,000 metric tonnes) of crude oilover the next few days. Remembering the Exxon Valdez oil spill 30 years later. It is considered the worst oil spill worldwide in terms of damage to the environment. environmental disaster, Prince William Sound, Alaska, United States [1989]. Website owner: Office of Response and Restoration | NOAA's Ocean ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | US Department of Commerce | USA.gov, This rocky shoreline in Prince William Sound was treated with high-pressure hot water in 1989 after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Revised: Dec 07, 2020 9:36am | Site Map | Contact Us | Accessibility | Disclaimer The incident happened after an Exxon Corporation tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground on Bligh Reef during a voyage from Valdez, Alaska, to California. In 1989, an Exxon tanker spilled millions of gallons of toxic oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Despite these cleanup efforts, the spill exterminated much native wildlife, including salmon, herring, sea otters, bald eagles, and killer whales. Our work in the field, laboratory, and statistical theory indicate that, yes, by many criteria, a number of the intertidal communities we study can be considered recovered. The spill eventually polluted 1,300 miles (2,092 kilometres) of indented shoreline, as well as adjacent waters, as far south as the southern end of Shelikof Strait between Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. Delayed efforts to contain the spill and naturally strong winds and waves dispersed nearly 11,000,000 gallons (41,640 kilolitres) of North Slope crude oil across the sound. Version Change 2, January 2018. Has Prince William Sound Recovered From the Spill. Workers cleaning rocks coated in oil from the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker than ran aground (1989) in Prince William Sound, Alaska, U.S. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. By 1997, residual oil found in patches in sediments at a few of our sites ranged from moderately to extremely weathered, with oil from deep subsurface reservoirs under gravel beaches the least weathered. Corrections? Oil spills from crippled tanker Exxon Valdez after the vessel crashed into Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. In 2008 it was converted by a Hong Kong company to an ore carrier, and in 2012, under the name Oriental Nicety, it was sold for scrapping in Alang, India. In NOAA's monitoring program, we studied features that reflect recovery of particular portions of the ecosystem that were directly affected by oil and cleanup in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill. Beach clean-up worker Bill Scheer shows off his oil-covered gear while working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill at Prince William Sound, Alaska, April 13, 1989. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 created the facility to study and create techniques to effectively deal with oil spills in the Arctic and sub-Arctic oceans and waterways, as well as supporting the US government in damage assessments. Oil spills from crippled tanker Exxon Valdez after the vessel crashed into Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. We know that oil remains in Prince William Sound. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. Omissions? On 24 March, 1989 an oil tanker ran aground in the pristine waters of Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska, dumping 11 million gallons of crude oil… Chemical contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (potentially toxic chemical components of oil) in tissues of mussels and clams were significantly elevated over background levels through 1992 for mussels and 1996 for clams. Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News/MCT/Getty Images Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News Exxon Valdez oil spill workers recover and clean birds soiled by crude oil spilled when the tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound in March 1989. To determine the role of natural variability in these conditions, we initiated ongoing focused and long-term experimental studies in Prince William Sound and in Kachemak Bay. The banding in this photo, from 2003, shows lichen (dark upper band), brown aglae (greenish-yellow), barnacles (white), and mussels (black lower patches). Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Rd., Anchorage, AK 99503 Abstract. We compared post Exxon Valdez oil-spill … If needed, they can steer the tanker, counter any unwanted move or take it … Environmental exposure, sediment size, and initial oil concentrations all affected oil weathering processes and rates. The extent to which it may be having an adverse impact is subject to debate and investigation, but for some people the fact that it remains at all is evidence that recovery has not taken place. Among other measures, the act created procedures for responding to future oil spills, established the legal liabilities of responsible parties, and set a schedule for banning single-hulled tankers from U.S. waters by 2015. Citizens promoting the environmentally safe operation of the Alyeska terminal and associated tankers. The Oil Spill Recovery Institute (OSRI) was established by Congress in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Bligh Reef, sometimes known as Bligh Island Reef, is a reef off the coast of Bligh Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska.This was the location of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Beach clean-up worker Bill Scheer shows off his oil-covered gear while working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill at Prince William Sound, Alaska, April 13, 1989. Lance BK(1), Irons DB, Kendall SJ, McDonald LL. After the incident, 33 US Code § 2733 mandated the operation of an automated navigation light to prevent future collisions with the reef. During the following three years, Exxon employed 10,000 people in an unprecedented clean-up effort. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). On this day, March 24, in 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and spewed an estimated 11 million gallons of oil into pristine arctic waters. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Workers steaming blast rocks covered in crude oil leaking from the, Crews using water from high-pressure hoses to clean oil off rocks on a beach, Naked Island, Alaska, April 21, 1989. Author information: (1)US Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, USA. It is important to remember the context and focus for the NOAA monitoring program: impacts and recovery on the shorelines where the oil stranded and where cleanup was concentrated. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Rd., Anchorage, AK 99503 WALLACE P. ERICKSON AND LYMAN L. MCDONALD West Inc., 2003 Central Ave., Cheyenne, WY 82001 BRIAN K. LANCE U.S. ran aground on Bligh Reef in northeastern Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 42 million liters of crude oil, the largest oil spill in USA history. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Exxon-Valdez-oil-spill, American Oil and Gas Historical Society - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. (NOAA), A NOAA biologist examines freshly excavated live adult clams from heavily oiled beach sediment on Block Island, Alaska. The results provide an analytically and ecologically realistic metric for recovery in a setting that is constantly changing, from year-to-year and over the longer term. When we re-surveyed clams in 2007, we did not find any elevated tissue concentrations at our monitoring sites. Prince William Sound cleanup effort update, April 30, 1989, Box AS 28341, Subject and correspondence files, Commissioner of Fish and Game, Alaska State Archives. Photograph: Reuters Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. We conducted post-spill surveys during mid-summer (1989-1991) in 10 bays that had been surveyed prior to the spill (1984-1985) and that had experienced different levels of initial oiling from the spill (unoiled to heavily oiled). Nearly 19 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court would hear one of the final lawsuits left lingering from the nation's worst environmental disaster. IRONS AND STEVEN J. KENDALL U.S. Remembering the Exxon Valdez oil spill 30 years later. Exxon Valdez oil spill, massive oil spill that occurred on March 24, 1989, in Prince William Sound, an inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, Alaska, U.S. We assessed whether sea otters and harlequin ducks in an area of western Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA (PWS), oiled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from oil residues 20 years after the spill. On March 24, 1989, shortly after midnight, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling more than 11 million gallons of crude oil. The Valdez terminal is located in Prince William Sound, on the south coast of Alaska, at the terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. These included species differences in infaunal populations (aquatic animals living in gravel beach sediments), different grain size structures that may have resulted from aggressive cleanup, and lower population abundances at oiled sites. Exxon Valdez oil spill on the abundance and distribution of birds in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In 1990 the U.S. Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act in direct response to the Exxon Valdez accident. Just after midnight on March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. To learn how Prince William Sound was recovering from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, teams of OR&R biologists, geologists, and chemists conducted a long-term monitoring study of … Despite long-term data collection over the nearly three decades since the spill, tremendous uncertainty remains as to how significantly the spill affected fishery resources. Our offices are located on the harbor in Cordova, Alaska, in the heart of beautiful Prince William Sound. Two escort tugs, for example, accompany every oil laden tanker that motors through Prince William Sound. Nearly 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil were dispersed when the Exxon Valdez ran aground, polluting 1,300 miles of Alaskan shoreline and causing the extermination of much native wildlife. Containment booms surround the oil tanker Exxon Valdez after it ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 1989. Der Prinz-William-Sund (englisch Prince William Sound) ist eine Bucht des Golfs von Alaska mit knapp 5000 km Küstenlinie, östlich der Kenai-Halbinsel. Spilled oil has persisted in PWS for two decades as surface oil residues (SOR) and subsurface oil residues (SSOR) on the shore. Located in Cordova, Alaska, United States [ 1989 ] Alaska ’ Prince... 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