ALASKAN OIL SPILL Essay Research Paper Mike

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ALASKAN OIL SPILL Essay, Research Paper Mike Prochaska Oil Spills The Issue Oil Spills are large-scale accidental discharges of liquid petroleum products which cause pollution along shorelines. The most spectacular involved the supertankers used for oil transport, but many other ship also spill oil, and offshore drilling operations contribute a large share of the pollution.Of every million tons of oil shiped, one ton is spilled. Some of the largest spills thus far recorded involved the tanker Amoco Cadiz which spilled 1.6 million barrels of oil into the Gulf Of Mexico in 1978. The largest spill in the United states was the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in March 1989. The spill in Alaska had a major effect on the environment and society of Alaska. The state of Alaska is

one of Americas leading producers of Oil, supplying about 20% of the countries output. All the feilds are on 105 public acres of land owned by the people of Alaska. Everyday 2.1 million barrels or 84 million gallons of oil are delivered to the town of Valdez for shiping. In 1989 the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 11 million gallons of oil into the sea causing one of the most environmental disasters in the United States. Now for some background. On March 23,1989 the 987-foot tanker called the Exxon Valdez was loaded with 1,264,164 barrels of oil. The captain, Joseph Hazelwood, had set a course to go through Prince William Sound Alaska and down the West Coast of Canada Before leaving for the trip, the Captain of the Exxon Valdez went to a bar and got drunk. So Ed Murphy, the

ship’s harbor pilot took control. He directed the vessel’s speed and course setting and began to steer the ship out of the harbor towards Valdez Narrows. Murphy gave the controls back to the captain. As the ship reached the outer edge of the radar coverage area the captain radioed the Coast Guard telling them he was heading outward and increasing his speed. He also told them that he was going to divert from the main traffic lanes and angle left. But on March 24th, at midnight, the captain went through the wrong inbound land marker and at high speed hit the Bligh Reef. ” The ship climbed 500 feet out of the water on the Reef before it stoped moving. The Captain knew he could not back the ship off the reef, so he continued to try and force the tanker to go forward, by

speeding up the engines and rocking back and forth. This only caused more damage to the ship and eight of the thirteen cargo compartments were damaged with dozons of holes, some the size of a truck. Oil started to spill out everywhere”(What Happened, pg.1) At 3:19 AM at least 138,000 barrels of oil had already been lost, with 20,000 barrels escaping every hour. The Captain called in for help and was told that the ship Alyeska would be there in five and one-half hours. But help never left port until 11:00 A.M. and did not get to Bligh Reef until 2:30 PM-more then 14 hours after the accident. By 5:30 PM in excess of 240,000 barrels of oil had left the Exxon Valdez and poured into Prince William Sound. Then on March 25, nearly 48 hours later, the Exxon Baton Rouge arrived to take

the remanding 1,000,000 barrels of oil from the Valdez. It took four days to empty it. Within a week 1,244 miles of shoreline was contaminated by the oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez. “When an Oil Spill occurs, The first thing the Coast Guard does is figure out who is responsible. There are two reasons for that: first, the Coast Guard wants to make sure whoever caused the problem is held legally and financially responsible. Then, once the Coast Guard has determined the “responsible party” the Coast Guard must find out if the spiller intends to conduct the cleanup himself”(Hung, pg.2) Exxon assumed the cleanup and financial responsiblity two days after the spill and began their emergency oil spill cleanup plans. The workers cleaned up over a thousand miles of coastline