Exxon Valdez Strikes Bligh Reef, Causing Disastrous Oil Spill at Sea
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 23, 1989.
It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur a sea. As significant as the Valdez spill was, it ranks well down on the list of the world's largest oil spills in terms of volume released. However, Prince William Sound's remote location (accessible only by helicopter and boat) made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region was a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The vessel spilled 10.8 million U.S. gallons (about 40 million litres) of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into the sea, and the oil eventually covered 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2) of ocean.
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 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. Many factors complicated the cleanup efforts following the spill. The size of the spill and its remote location, accessible only by helicopter and boat, made government and industry efforts difficult and tested existing plans for dealing with such an event.