Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Prince William’

December 25, 2009

Alaska oil spill sounds alarm on Bligh Reef

View Larger Map

Bligh Reef, the site of the nation’s worst oil spill 20 years ago, is again the scene of a shipping mishap. Last night a 136-foot tugboat ran aground on the infamous reef in Prince William Sound and ripped a 4-5 foot hole in its keel.

More than 33,000 gallons of diesel oil spilled from Crowley Maritime’s “Pathfinder” which was scouting for ice in the area. According to news reports, after the 6:15 PM grounding, the tug crew managed to move off the reef and the boat is anchored near Busby Island and is surrounded by containment booms.

As of today an International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) crew is on alert for possible deployment to the Alaska spill.

Reports say that more than 4 feet of the Pathfinder’s keel is gone. The Coast Guard says an overflight on the morning of December 24, reported oil on the water. The tugboat is based in Valdez, Alaska. Crowley tugboat fleet

The notorious Bligh Reef is where the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in March 1989, spilling at least 11 million gallons of crude oil. During that spill an IBRRC response team spent 6 months helping manage oiled wildlife response efforts.

Media reports:

The Christmas Oil Grinch
: The Huffington Post

Tug Grounds on Same Reef as Exxon Valdez Tanker
: ABC News

What Ever Happened to the Exxon Valdez Spill?: Slate Online

Exxon Valdez Spill 1989
: YouTube

June 27, 2008

Court knocks down Exxon oil spill damages

After nearly 20 years of legal wrangling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill court case has finally come to a bitter end. On June 25, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down punitive damages in a 5-3 ruling that could have far reaching affects for victims harmed during shipping oil spill accidents.

The court reduced the award to $500 million from $2.5 Billion that more than 32,000 fishermen and Alaska Natives had been waiting to collect on oil spill claims from the Exxon Mobil Corp. The plantiffs claimed that the spill caused incredible damage to fishing grounds and harmed their ability to make a living in the area. The 1989 spill caused 11 million gallons of crude oil to harm fishing grounds in the Prince William Sound area.

In late February 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments in the case Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 07-219. Case timeline

A lower court originally awarded $5 Billion in damages to area fishermen who lost revenue after the spill. Another court cut that award in half to $2.5 Billion. The Supreme Court was expected to trim some of the damage award again as Justice Samuel Alito recused himself from the case. Alito owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock and stepped aside on the case.

For background on the spill, go to Crude Awakening IBBRC’s story on the spill and its bird saving efforts.

Read more about the recent court descision from the story in the San Francisco Chronicle

Exxon not cutting any checks yet: Alaska Daily News