Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the T/V Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling almost eleven million gallons of North Slope crude oil. The oil moved along the coastline of Alaska, contaminating portions of the shoreline of Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, lower Cook Inlet, the Kodiak Archipelago, and the Alaska Peninsula. Oiled areas include a National Forest, four National Wildlife Refuges, three National Parks, five State Parks, four State Critical Habitat Areas, and a State Game Sanctuary. Oil eventually reached shorelines nearly 500 miles southwest from Bligh Reef. Cleanup activities continued for almost four years. Oil contaminated approximately 1,300 of the 9,000 shoreline miles in the area. The harm to wildlife was estimated to include the loss of 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. As of October 2015, it remains the largest tanker spill in United States history.
Credit: Exxon Valdez Trustee Council
Barge water tanks, workers hosing beach, Credit: Exxon Valdez Trustee Council