The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: the Harm That Followed
Almost 14,000 oil spills are reported each year. The Exxon Valdez oil spill is one these reported and also one of the world's most known. It was not the largest spill, but it had the most detrimental environmental effects known today. The Exxon Valdez spill is also the most expensive spills to date. The spill occurred in Prince William Sound of Alaska. This is a large commercial fishing industry, plus it is home to migratory birds, sea otters, and many other marine mammals. The Exxon Valdez spill sadly could have been prevented. Because of the negligence of the captain of the Exxon Valdez, the tanker struck a reef with detrimental effects.
The Exxon Valdez tanker was loaded with 40 million gallons (952,000 barrels) of oil in Valdez from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The captain of the ship, Captain Joseph Hazelwood, came on board after having drinks with a friend at the port. Once the ship was filled they wasted no time and began their journey to the refineries in Long Beach, California after dark on the evening of March 23, 1989.
When the captain boarded the ship, he knew many things about the ship. For example, when the 987 foot long ship is fully loaded it rides five stories deep in the water (Blashfield, 17). Bligh Reef, which they would be passing by is only 40 feet below the surface of the sea. This massive ship takes at least two miles to stop. Knowing all of this information Captain Hazelwood decided to cut it close by trying to turn the tanker in the narrow space between the ice and the reef. (Schoowe, 11).
With all of this known, the captain did three strange things. He ordered the helmsman to put the ship on automatic pilot, he ordered the engines accelerated to a speed normally used only in open seas, and he left the bridge, with a junior officer, third mate Gregory Cousins, in charge while he went to his cabin.