Exxon Valdez Incident


  • John D Halley Memorial University of Newfoundland


Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI 8751)


The Exxon Valdez was an oil tanker owned by the ExxonMobil Shipping Company, which gained its infamy after running aground in Prince William Sound spilling more than 11 million galleons (approximately 258,000 barrels) of crude oil [1]. It is currently operating under the name Oriental Nicety, and is owned by Hong Kong Bloom Shipping Ltd. In the early hours of March 24th, 1989 the vessel struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The oil impacted over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill in U.S. history [2]. Exxon and the U.S. Coast Guard began a massive cleanup effort that included over 11,000 personnel, 1,400 vessels, and 85 aircrafts [2]. The spill affected one of the nations most vulnerable ecosystems, which included a national forest, four national wildlife refuges, five state parks, 3 national parks, four state critical habitat areas, and a state game sanctuary. Total toll on marine wildlife included approximately 300 harbour seals, 2,800 sea otters, and between 250,000 and 500,000 seabirds [3]. The remote location, the large spill size, and the character of the oil spill tested spill preparedness and response capabilities. Government and industry response plans proved to be completely insufficient to maintain an oil spill of this magnitude. Initial industry response to get equipment on site was exceptionally slow, and once deployed the equipment could not cope with the scale of the oil spill. In the aftermath of the incident, Exxon Mobil undertook substantial operational reforms and implemented an extremely thorough operational management system to prevent future incidents. This report will explore the Exxon Valdez incident, environmental losses, economic losses, loss prevention measures, and the impact on design codes, practices and regulations.

Author Biography

John D Halley, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Ocean and Naval Architectural engineering student at Memorial University.


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Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)