Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

On March 24, 1989, there were several ruptured tanks of the Exxon Valdez that allowed approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil to pour into the Gulf of Alaska. As soon as this happened, it started what would be described as one of the most dreadful environmental disasters in the history of oil drilling. A few months after, there were enormous surges of wind and waves that caused the oil to spread further out into the shorelines of Prince William Sound Region .

The cleaning process was said to have been very difficult in many ways. The workers that were in charge of the clean up ran across several problems that ranged from the frequent changes of the tide; covering the rocks with more oil to the long term damages of the fish marine and wildlife.

Ethical Issue / Conflict

In this case you will find that there was a great deal of ethical concerns that ranged from the companies late response to the oil spill to the way that they choose to deal with the compensation that was agreed upon between the company and the victims involved . Even though Exxon argued that they handled the matter responsibly by acting in a timely manner and paying each claim in the amount of nearly $3 billion dollars, there were a whole host of scientist and environmentalist who believed that the company should have paid even more.

Affected Parties

There were a great deal of human communities as well as wildlife and marine that were affected by this oil spill. Several years after the oil disaster there have been reports that most of these communities have not fully recovered from the damage. With this kind of disaster, affecting such a mass environment , the economy and other industry related jobs collapsed into a failing ecological ruin.

Consequences and Reforms

Shortly after the oil spill, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. This law basically stated that there was to be no further drilling and that all vessels would be prohibited from operating in the Prince William Sound Region.

Exxon argued in a legal matter in order to convince the Federal Government that it was in-fact safe for ships to enter the Alaskan waters. Exxon felt as if the decision was just targeting there company and never would have been in effect if it wasn’t for their unfortunately incident. Exxon continued to dispute the governments decision by claiming that the bill was unfair. In 2002, the Court of Appeals ruled against them which prevented 18 ships from ever making it to the Prince William Sound Region.

Economic and personal impact

In 1991, The Alaskan Native Corporation filed for bankruptcy. There were several studies done that determined that the spill caused a lot of short term as well as long term damage economically. There was a loss of recreational sports, fisheries, stocks of salmon, herring and reduced tourism . Several residents as well as the former mayor were said to have committed suicide after the spill.


If there is one thing that we can all learn from this disastor is that when any company engages in such unethical acts , you can almost always expect consequences to follow. This shows that any company currently involved in any kind of unethical enviromental practices should be prepared to face a lot of public distrust as well as costly litigation. Today we are still learning lessons from the Exxon Valdez spill because of the recent BP environmental disaster in the Gulf .Various methods, techniques and technology are now being designed to prevent these oil spills from ever happening again .


Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council . Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Plan . Anchorage, Ala.: The Council, 1994.

Keeble, John. Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound. 2d ed. Cheney: Eastern Washington University Press, 1999.

Lebedoff, David. Cleaning Up: The Exxon Valdez Case, the Story Behind the Biggest Legal Bonanza of Our Time. New York: Free Press, 1997. www.worldnews.about.com

Owen, Brian M., et al. The Economics of a Disaster: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 1995. www.kosmic.com/oilspill