Thursday, August 5, 2010

Exxon Valdez Judgement Not A Good Sign For Gulf Residents

Remember the Exxon Valdez?

One Amazon customer reviews a book by John Keeble regarding this 11-million-gallon oil spill.

Newspaper stories about the oil spill created the impression that the cause of the accident was simply that the captain was drunk. This book shows that the real situation was far more complex. The captain was definitely not drunk. He did have a few drinks, which is against regulations. Even after all the analysis it is not clear what exactly went wrong. The fact that the captain had a few drinks was not the only breach of regulations. None of the officers had a six-hour off duty time in the twelve-hour period before departure.

The ship was single hulled instead of double hulled as was foreseen when the oil terminal was built.

When Congress granted permission to build the pipeline and the terminal one of the conditions was that there would be a state-of-the-art contingency plan for oil spills. There was nothing of the sort.

A Vessel Traffic Services station was supposed to monitor the movement of the ships through the strait. Due to cost cutting measures the station was unable to monitor the movement of the ship.

A major cause of inefficiency in the clean up was the lack of clarity about who was in charge, the Coast Guard or Exxon.

It is not just the captain that acted irresponsibly, so did all parties concerned. This is described in one part of the book.

The second part of the book describes the impact of the oil spill and especially of the clean up on the communities affected. Each of the communities split in the middle. Half of the members took the position of trying to squeeze as much money out of Exxon as possible whilst the other half did not want to have anything to do with Exxon.

Exxon did not succeed in engaging the communities in a positive way.

The third part describes the nature in Alaska. These descriptions are wonderful and make you want to go there. These three parts are interwoven.

The advantage is that the reader gets a three dimensional understanding of what happened: the responsibility for the disaster and the clean up, the impact on different members of the community and the impact on nature.

The author places the ultimate responsibility on the consumer. He writes,

"the American population prefers to live in a fog and is willing to accept almost anything in return for the opportunity to keep its gas tanks topped up" (with cheap gas).

The reviewer concludes:

The combination of corporations maximising short-term profits and consumers closing their eyes to the consequences of their behaviour makes one worried. There must be a better way.

The book is here:
More reviews of Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill In Prince William Sound.

NOW that we've been warmed up.

Some observations:

1st. "Spill?!!!!"
words are powerful and this word is propogandy fer durn sher.
rupture? volcano? nightmare? toxic plume?


2nd. This toxic oil catastrophe was only the 53rd largest in history, says Wikipedia.

3rd. What happened afterward.

This is why Gulf residents are in for a sucky time.

The Exxon toxic plume savaged Prince William Sound in 1989.

In 1991, a jury recommended a 900 Million penalty for Exxon.

In 1994 a judge added a 5 Billion punitive judgement against Exxon.

In 2008, SCOTUS slashes the award to 1/10th of its size: 500 million
to the residents of Cordova, Alaska.

But what else was going on with Exxon in 2008?


That's right.

The very same year the Supremes reduced Exxon's cleanup cost obligations for this most horrific, toxic event, Exxon reported record profits for the previous year -- 40.61 Billion, or 1,300.00 per second, during the year 2007.

Congratulations, Exxon.

Also, by 2008 the price of gas had skyrocketed 60 per cent.
Cordova residents found themselves gouged coming and going just
for wanting to drive their petrol-guzzling conveyances to work and
wherever else they needed to go. Because what else do we have, Mr. Keeble?
Without reliable mass transit, is it really so much about
consumers driving the economy? Or maybe Mr. Keeble should read up on the history of the highways, the auto makers, and the development of cities, and then tell us
just how much our car-centered infrastructure is the fault of people who are in a fog.

I'll agree about the fog, but not the fault.

Here's a glimpse of how long oil stays stuck in all the trillions of nooks and crannies that it can get stuck in, in ocean habitats. This is the Exxon Valdez spill, 20 years later, as documented by National Geographic.

20 Years After The Exxon Befoulment.