The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, when the oil tanker bound for Long Beach, California, struck Prince William Sound”s Bligh Reef and spilled about 11 million US gallons of crude oil. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. As significant as the Valdez spill was—the largest ever in U.S. waters until the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill—it ranks well down on the list of the world’s largest oil spills in terms of volume released. However, Prince William Sound’s remote location, accessible only by helicopter, plane and boat, made government and industry response efforts difficult and severely taxed existing plans for response. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil, originally extracted at the Prudhoe Bay oilfield, eventually covered 1,300 miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of ocean.
On This Date: March 24, 198924 03 2011