17.4: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
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On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon-Valdez ran aground whilst avoiding an iceberg, causing the world’s second largest catastrophic oil spill. The spill released 10.8 million gallons (at a minimum estimate) of oil into the Prince Edward Sound in Alaska, and evidence of continuous effects of the spill still are apparent, nearly 25 years after the incident. The spill spread across 1,300 miles of immediate coastline by ocean current, and effects are seen even further. Ecosystems were severely disrupted and several species in the area effected.
[The link above gives access to view the NOAA Hazmat Trajectory Model of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. This series of 7 slides charts the spread of the oil March 24-30, 1989, in Prince William Sound (this is not the full extent of the spill). *We should convert them into an animation]
Spread of the Oil
According to lingering oil reports, oil from the spill still is found across 264 shoreline segments and across 2,000 km of shoreline in both the Prince Edward Sound and Gulf of Alaska. The oil report summarizes the progress of the spill and the ecosystems and species that are still recovering.