Title Page Exxon Valdez Oil spill 1989 Impact on Prince William Sound and Copper River
State of Alaska State of Alaska Site of Exxon Valdex oil spill Location of the Exxon Valdex oil spill in the state of Alaska
Area of Impact Area of impact of Exxon Valdex oil spill A processed satellite image
Valdez Oil Terminal • 1. Valdez Oil Terminal • Loading piers at the Valdez terminal. Here, oil from the trans-Alaska pipeline is loaded onto tankers for shipment to West Coast states. At this terminal, oil was loaded onto the Exxon Valdez for shipment to Los Angeles/Long Beach.
The Exxon Valdez, Grounded on Bligh Reef • 2. The Exxon Valdez, Grounded on Bligh Reef • Shortly after leaving the Port of Valdez, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef. The picture below was taken 3 days after the vessel grounded, just before a storm arrived.
Lightering Remaining Cargo • 3. Lightering Remaining Cargo • Oil was lightered (transferred) from the Exxon Valdez (left) to the Exxon Baton Rouge (right), in a successful effort to keep the oil remaining on the Exxon Valdez from spilling into Prince William Sound. About one-fifth of the oil carried by the Exxon Valdez was spilled; the remaining 42 million gallons of oil was safely transferred to the Baton Rouge.
Exxon Valdez Surrounded by Boom • 4. Exxon Valdez Surrounded by Boom • After the remaining cargo was offloaded and the Exxon Valdez was refloated, the vessel was moved to Outside Bay, southwest of Naked Island, where temporary repairs were made. Here, you can see it at anchor in Outside Bay, surrounded by protective boom.
Heavy Sheen on Sea Surface • 5. Heavy Sheen on Sea Surface • During the first few days of the spill, heavy sheens of oil, such as the sheen visible in this photograph, covered large areas of the surface of Prince William Sound.
Boom Around Salmon Hatchery • 6. Boom Around Salmon Hatchery • As the spilled oil moved across the waters of Prince William Sound, responders tried to protect especially sensitive locations, such as this salmon hatchery in the eastern Sound, which they surrounded with protective boom. Boom floats on the water surface and is designed to act as a barrier to oil.
Oil Pooled Among Rocks • 7. Oil Pooled Among Rocks • Beginning 3 days after the vessel grounded, a storm pushed large quantities of fresh oil onto the rocky shores of many of the beaches in the Knight Island chain. In this photograph, pooled oil is shown stranded in the rocks.
Pools of Oil on Rocky Beach • 8. Pools of Oil on Rocky Beach • This photograph shows a heavily impacted rocky beach.
Boom, Barge, and Skimmer • 9. Boom, Barge, and Skimmer • Cleanup operations included skimming oil from the water surface with towed booms, as shown below. Two boats are towing the boom (only one is visible in this photo). Oil is collecting within the boom, and a small skimmer at the apex of the boom is removing the oil from the water surface. The skimmed oil is being pumped through a hose into the barge that is following the skimmer.
Skimming Operation • 10. Skimming Operation • Oil being skimmed from the sea surface. Here, two boats are towing a collection boom. Oil concentrated within the boom is being picked up by the skimmer (the vessel at the apex of the boom).
Scene in the Command Center • 11. Scene in the Command Center • NOAA scientists at work in the spill response command center at Valdez. Some of their projects included forecasting the movement and fate of floating oil, identifying sensitive environments, evaluating results of surveys of shoreline oiling, studying the effects of shoreline cleanup methods, and coordinating scientific activities during the response.
Oil High on Beach Front • 12. Oil High on Beach Front • In many locations in Prince William Sound, the action of tides and currents distributed oil throughout the entire intertidal zone. In Northwest Bay on Knight Island, tides have deposited oil on this rocky beach face up to the top of the intertidal zone.
Oiled Beach at Herring Bay • 13. Oiled Beach at Herring Bay • The backs of many bays were heavily impacted. This photograph shows a heavily oiled section of beach at the back of Herring Bay.
Transport of Oiled Wildlife • 14. Transport of Oiled Wildlife • Workers transporting captured, oiled wildlife to a rehabilitation center for cleaning. Researchers are actively debating the effectiveness of wildlife rehabilitation. While some studies have found rehabilitation to be ineffective, rehabilitation proponents have pointed out other cases in which rates of survival of rehabilitated wildlife have been substantially higher.
High-Pressure, Hot-Water Washing I • 15. High-Pressure, Hot-Water Washing • Workers using high-pressure, hot-water washing to clean an oiled shoreline. In this treatment method, used on many Prince William Sound beaches, oil is hosed from beaches, collected within floating boom, then skimmed from the water surface. • Other common treatment methods included cold-water flushing of beaches, manual beach cleaning (by hand or with absorbent pom-poms), bioremediation (application of fertilizers to stimulate growth of local bacteria, which degrade oil), and the mechanical relocation of oiled sediments to places where they could be cleaned by wave and tide action.
High-Pressure, Hot-Water Washing II 15. High-Pressure, Hot-Water Washing
Booms Preventing Oil Refloating • 16. Booms Preventing Oil Refloating • When crews cleaned a beach with high-pressure, hot-water washing, booms were used, as shown here, to prevent oil refloated by the cleaning operations from escaping back into Prince William Sound.
Sediment Plume and Sheens • 17. Sediment Plume and Sheens • A brown sediment plume and sheens of refloated oil drift away from this oiled beach as it is cleaned by a team applying high-pressure, hot-water washing. Refloating of oil and release of sediment are often unavoidable consequences of shoreline cleanup that can cause additional environmental harm.
Block Island Before and During Washing I • 18. Block Island Before and During Washing • This photo shows a section of the Block Island coastline before treatment by high-pressure, hot-water washing; the next photo shows the same section during high-pressure, hot-water washing.
Block Island Before and During Washing II 18. Block Island Before and During Washing Note the small black patch of refloated oil (next to the inner boom, on the righthand side of the photo) ready to be skimmed, and the brown plume of oil and sediment drifting outwards from the beach.
Trenching to Measure Oil Penetration • 20. Trenching to Measure Oil Penetration • A researcher digs a trench in an oiled beach in order to determine the depth of oil penetration.
Cleanup Debris • 21. Cleanup Debris • Bags of Exxon Valdez cleanup debris await disposal. Much of the debris collected during the Exxon Valdez cleanup was eventually deposited in a landfill in Oregon State, the closest facility certified to properly handle the waste.