Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exxon and Prince William Sound

Remember last week when I talked about Exxon's obscene profit and how they have fought for 20 years to weasel out of punitive damages for the Valdez spill?

Well, the story continues. There is more. Prince William Sound is remote and rugged area of Alaskan coast that was covered by an oil spill 11,000 square miles in size after the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989. The official record states that 10.8 million gallons of crude oil were leaked by the disabled vessel.

Now, 20 years later, Exxon has received a favorable judgment that essentially lets it off the hook for reparations to the affected communities. Think the clean-up was effective? Exxon does.

Does this look clean to you?

That looks suspiciously like oil to me. How about you?

According to an article in the Guardian , "A study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007 more than 26 thousand U.S. gallons (22,000 imp gal/98,000 L) of oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year."

While the clean-up efforts at the time were hampered by the isolated location and our current technology, Exxon refuses to admit that this is still a problem. Much has been learned about how to correctly handle similar and even larger oil spills, so one can argue that we learned a valuable lesson from the Valdez spill. Environmentalists learned a lesson, certainly. But has Exxon?

I think they have not. They make BILLIONS every year. They balk at paying damages for so long that the judicial system essentially waves a white flag of surrender.

It is past time that Exxon and all the other megacorporations learned that they will be held responsible for their actions. Just like the current outrage over AIG's retreats in the face of multi-billion dollar bail-outs by America, we need to remember the outrage we felt when we watched hundreds of thousands of marine animals die, the livelihood of fellow Americans destroyed and what had once been a nearly pristine wilderness destroyed by our own addiction to oil.

We need to remember. We need to act. Think there's nothing to do in the face of such enormous greed? We must hold these corporations accountable.

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