Friday, March 13, 2020

Exxon Valdez Essays - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Oil Pollution Act

Exxon Valdez Essays - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Oil Pollution Act Exxon Valdez INTRODUCTION On March 24, 1989 at 4 minutes past midnight, the oil tanker ExxonValdez struck a reef in Alaska's breath-taking Prince William Sound. Instantaneously, the quiet waters of the sound became a sea of black. We've fetched up - ah - hard aground north of Goose Island off Bligh Reef, and - ah - evidently leaking some oil, Joseph Hazelwood, captain of the ship, radioed the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office back in Valdez. That some oil turned out to be a total of 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil leaking from the ruptured hull of the ship. By the time a containment effort was put forth, a weather storm had helped to spread the oil as much as three feet thick across 1,400 miles of beaches. A little over ten years have passed since the largest oil spill and the greatest environmental disaster in American history, but the waters and its surroundings are still recovering. At first, many people repeated what was then thought as common knowledge, oil dissipates, nature heals quickly, all will be well in a year or two. This has not been the case with the Exxon Valdez. This massive 987-foot tanker has left a lingering, long-term effect on the natural habitat that surrounds these pristine waters, along with an enormous socio-economic effect that has left many people wondering when and where the next oil spill will be. Many associated with the recovery process, and its more than one hundred projects per year, say it will take longer than a human lifetime to determine if a full recovery is possible (Fine 1999). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The Exxon Valdez oil spill was initially thought of as a two to three year clean-up project. As time went ahead, scientists and clean-up crews realized that it would take a longer period of time and require a lot more effort than originally planned. Up to this point, the oil has contaminated a national forest, four wildlife refuges, three national parks, five state parks, four critical habitat areas and a state game sanctuary, which spreads along 1,400 miles of the Alaskan shoreline. Recent scientific studies show that the oil continues to wreak havoc among many spawning salmon, herring, and other species of fish. This is even more devastating when considering that much of the wildlife around the sound is dependant on the high calorie, high fat content of the herring as their prime food source. Among the many casualties were 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, as many as 22 killer whales, and an estimated quarter-million seabirds. It is unclear how many billions of salmon and herring eggs and intertidal plants succumbed to the oil smothering. Within an ecosystem, each living thing depends on other living things. That means that when the fish died in Prince William Sound, there was less food for the seals that normally eat them. As those seals died, there was less food for the killer whales that eat seals (Knickerbocker 1999). This has led to a domino effect within the food chain, victimizing many of the animals surrounding the area. Intertidal mussel beds are still contaminated to this day. Twenty-three species of wildlife were effected by this oil spill, and only two species, the bald eagle and the river otter, have fully recovered. The species that are well on their way to a comeback include pink salmon, Pacific herring, sea otters, mussels, black oyster catcher, common murre, marbled murrelet, and sockeye salmon. As with any environmental disasters, there are some animals that are showing little or no clear improvement since the spill occurred. This group includes harbour seals, killer whales, harlequin ducks, common loons, cormorants, and the pigeon gullomot. In some areas, that have been hardest hit by the oil spill, many of the species have an elevated level of mortality. Even though the Exxon Valdez is the most-studied oil spill in world history, it is also a particularly difficult one to research because of the lack of baseline data on the ecology of Prince William Sound (Birkland 1998). Among all the animal casualties, there is another victim, people. Thousands have been forced to bare the consequences of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Throughout the years, the waters of Alaska have

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