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Exxon Valdez Disaster- An Ongoing History Of Lies

http://www.greenpeace.org.nz

Exxon Valdez disaster- an ongoing history of lies


11MAR2004-KNIGHT ISLAND, ALASKA, USA
Dr. Rick Steiner, Marine Biologist, University of Alaska, examines oil left from the Exxon Valdez oil spill 15 years later, at Rua Cove on Knight Island Alaska, 11 March 2004. Greenpeace commissioned photographer Robert Visser, who documented the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, to revisit the disaster site and to photograph oil pollution still in evidence after 15 years.
© 2004 Robert Visser/Greenpeace

Auckland 23rd March 2004: On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill, which saw 11 million gallons of oil being spilled into a pristine wilderness area in Alaska, Greenpeace demands that US oil giant ExxonMobil comes clean about the true state of Prince William Sound, the site of the spill.

In 1991 ExxonMobil pleaded guilty to breaking several environmental laws and settled criminal and civil lawsuits of over 1 billion USD (1.69 billion NZ). This was the most extensive attempt in human history to mitigate the environmental damage caused by an industrial disaster.

Since then ExxonMobil, the world’s oldest oil company, has used its vast financial power and influence to avoid taking responsibility, but should be held to account. The company has dragged out the battle over the additional 5 billion USD (8.45 billion NZ) punitive damages awarded against it and has stated that it intends to see the decision "overturned." [1]

While ExxonMobil dodges responsibility for massive ecological damage in an Alaskan wilderness, the company is proceeding to use the courts to press felony charges against 38 Greenpeace volunteers who entered the companies headquarters in Texas to conduct a peaceful protest against the companies position on climate change.


EXXON VALDEZ OIL SPILL DISASTER GREENPEACE SURVEY
Greenpeace survey of oil pollution in Prince William Sound as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska. Diesel Beach, Knight Island. Oily hands.
(c)Greenpeace/Visser

In the early 1990s, ExxonMobil funded research that claimed the Sound was well on its way to recovery. But new scientific research, conducted over the last 14 years, states the opposite. The latest study, published in SCIENCE magazine [2] concluded that far from having recovered the Sound area continues to experience problems as a result of oil remaining from the spill.


ARCHIVE PHOTO 1989 , NORTH PACIFIC, ALASKA, USA Sea otter at rehabilitation centre in Valdez after Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska. Accession

(c)Greenpeace/Merjenburgh

With 500 miles of the coastline covered in oil just within the Sound area, mortality in the aftermath of the spill was particularly high, with sea otter, sea bird and harbour seal populations suffering the most. Contrary to ExxonMobil's research, oil is still present in the Sound and has remained 'persistently toxic', resulting in long-term impacts in fish, sea otters and sea ducks.

Dennis Kelso, Commissioner of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation argues that ExxonMobil's statements following the spill were "part of a deliberate misinformation campaign," [3] a position supported by marine scientist Professor Rick Steiner, who believes that ExxonMobil “has constructed its own "reality" of the spill - minimal impacts and rapid recovery." [4]

"ExxonMobil's tactics are well-known, and this is a classic case of deny, dupe and delay,” said Greenpeace Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson. “Just as it denies the science on climate change, it denies that oil from the spill is causing damage in the Sound. And on both issues it is running campaigns to dupe the public into thinking it is an environmentally and socially responsible corporation. As long as ExxonMobil continues this way, Greenpeace will continue to campaign like the volunteers in Texas, to expose it.”

ExxonMobil’s version of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is a history of lies, a legacy that the company pursues today in its attempts to demolish accepted science on climate change. At a time when the world is suffering the consequences of changing weather, droughts and floods ExxonMobil argues that more research is needed before taking action.

Notes to editor

[1] Exxon, 'Attorneys general ask Exxon to pay up', Anchorage Daily News, 13 May, 1999.

[2] SCIENCE Magazine, 19 December 2003, Vol 302, 'Long-term Ecosystem Response to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill,' C.H.Peterson, S.D.Rice, J.W.Short, D.Esler, J.L.Bodkin, B.E.Ballachey, D.B.Irons.

[3] Dennis Kelso, quoted in 'Critics Fault Exxon', Christian Science Monitor, 14 June, 1989.

[4] Professor Rick Steiner in, The Truth about The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, by Prof. Rick Steiner and Dr. Riki Ott, November 16 1993.

Contacts:
Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson 021 565 165
Press Officer Suzette Jackson, GPNZ communications officer 021 577 556


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