Friday, June 27, 2008

Exxon Valdez ruling - a licence to spill

Twenty years ago the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska, killing 250,000 seabirds, 3,000 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales. Not to mention what it did to First Nations' livelihood.
A 1994 federal jury in Alaska originally awarded $5 billion in punitive damages. A federal judge later reduced it to $4.5 billion, and the appeals court further cut it to $2.5 billion.

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the $2.5-billion ruling and the new figure is $507.5 million in damages.
It takes Exxon less than two days to make $2.5 billion in revenue.
In 1969 the Valdez Port was purchased from the Chugach Natives for $1 and Exxon's promise to protect their fishing and seal hunting grounds from oil, including the use of "state -of-the-art" radar equipment.
"At the helm, the third mate would never have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his Raycas radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker's radar was left broken and disasbled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was just too expensive to fix and operate.
...the reckless acts of the industry consortium, Alyeska, which controls the Alaska Pipeline.
Several smaller oil spills before the Exxon Valdez could have warned of a system breakdown. But a former Senior Lab Technician with Alyeska, Erlene Blake, told our investigators that management routinely ordered her to toss out test samples of water evidencing spilled oil. She was ordered to refill the test tubes with a bucket of clean sea water called, "The Miracle Barrel."
Palast continues here.
Couldn't happen again though, right?
Two words, my friend : Gary Lunn
Update : Greg Palast link fixed.


Anonymous said...

it was that long ago....sheesh. seems like only yesterday i wrote 'x on the rocks', was accompanied by les cornell and terry whateverhislastnamewas recorded it . we tried sending it out as a protest song but , meh, it wasn't accepted.

thanks for this post, allison....keeping us up to date and as usual, nothing much has changed with asshole corporations.

Alison said...

Terry Wicks ;-)

Q said...

This ruling was beyond biased, Roberts did everything but get down on the court floor and give Exxon a blow job.

I'm sure he wanted to.

That's probably a Clarence Thomas job anyway.

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