Today is the seventeen Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the worst spill in America’s history. Over eleven million gallons poured into Prince William Sound polluting the pristine environment and devastating the local wildlife and with it the local salmon fishing industry.
The world may have moved on, but for many Alaskans they are still haunted by that day. Especially the native American Indians who struggle to survive. They and the fishermen have still not been compensated and the legal case grinds through the courts. The oil still pollutes the Sound.
“You can still go and pick up a rock and find what looks like fresh oil,” says John Devens, executive director of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council.
With a perverse sense of timing, the largest oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope happened this month, caused by corrosion of a BP pipeline. Some 267,000 gallons of oil poured unnoticed onto the tundra for five days. It is a dark reminder of the complacency of an oil industry that operates to its own rules with little regard for safety or the environment.
One of the biggest tragedies of the spill is the unknown number of clean-up workers who have died or become sick. If you want to know more about this, check out Riki Ott’s book that was published last year, Sound Truth and Corporate Myths: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.
The book is a true reminder of the consequences of our oil addiction.