March 24, 1989: Exxon Valdez Runs Aground, Causing Major Oil Spill
The distress call came just after midnight, March 24, 1989. Captain Joseph Hazelwood radioed the Port of Valdez the tanker under his command, and named for the town it had just left, had run aground.
The vessel was loaded with 53 million gallons of crude oil when it struck the reef. Nearly 11 million gallons leaked from the ship.
The spill spread quickly and devastated the waters and coastline of the surrounding area. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds, thousands of marine mammals, and countless fish were killed by the viscous oil that would eventually coat nearly 10,000 square miles of the sound and 1,200 miles of shoreline.
In 2008, almost twenty years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Supreme Court decided to reduce victims’ compensation in Alaska. Head on over to the PBS NewsHour to see how the impact of the accident still lingers in the region.
Photo: The Exxon Valdez three days after the vessel grounded, just before a storm arrived (Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).