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Exxon Valdez headed for India scrap heap

Posted: March 24, 2012 - 10:09pm

JUNEAU — The ship formerly known as the Exxon Valdez, responsible for one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history, appears destined for the scrap heap in a shipyard along the Indian Gulf of Cambay.

Such an end for the ship that spilled millions of gallons of crude in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989 is fitting, says at least one person directly involved with the disaster’s aftermath.

“My first reaction when I heard the boat is getting scrapped was ‘good riddance,”’ Stan Jones said.

Jones was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News at the time of the spill. He now works as a spokesman for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, a foundation set up after the spill with the goal of preventing similar disasters. 

“It’s a symbol of a really dark day in Alaska’s history. But then my second thought is that the boat alone is nothing. The problem was man and machine together.  ... The good thing is that, today, the spill wouldn’t happen that way, or it would have been much smaller because of changes we’ve made.” 

The tanker ran aground at Alaska’s Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989, and spewed 11 million gallons of crude oil into the rich fishing waters of Prince William Sound. 

The shoreline was coated with petroleum sludge. Towns like Cordova that relied on fishing the sound were devastated. An incalculable amount of damage was done to marine species and the surrounding environment. 

An Anchorage jury in 1991 called for Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, thought the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that to $507.5 million. Some litigation related to the spill is still ongoing. 

Exxon maintained at the time that it should not be liable for the actions of the supertanker’s skipper, Joseph Hazelwood, when the nearly 1,000-foot vessel ran aground with 53 million gallons of oil in its hold.

According to prosecutors, Hazelwood was drunk, but he denied it and was acquitted of the charge in criminal court. 

Hazelwood apologized to Alaskans in a 2009 book, “The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster.”

Changes that came after the spill include a federal law that has phased in double-hulled tankers, a requirement for tanker escorts into Port Valdez, creation of regional citizen councils that act as industry watchdogs, and storage facilities in Alaska fishing communities where spill response gear is cached. 

The Exxon Valdez was engineered in San Diego and commissioned in 1986 to carry crude oil.

In the years since, the ship has been rebranded a few times with different names. It is now called the Oriental Nicety. 

Though widely reported as purchased by a Baltimore-based company, Hong Kong-based Best Oasis Ltd. actually bought the ship recently for an undisclosed price. 

Best Oasis is a wholly owned subsidiary of Priya Blue Industries in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Company spokesman Gauray Mehta confirmed the purchase to The Associated Press on Friday, but he said he “can give no details till we take delivery of it.” 

The company would not disclose the purpose of its purchase, but it buys old ships solely to dismantle them, reuse salvageable material and discard the rest.

India has one of the world’s largest industries for breaking down old ships and oil tankers in the town of Alang, and workers in the coastal town are expected to process the ship to salvage scraps of metal and parts that retain value. 

News of the sale comes a few days before an odd-year anniversary of the spill that will feature no elaborate commemoration in Alaska communities affected by it. But people who have been around for a while and those still helping with cleanup efforts are breathing a sigh of relief as the ship meets what they consider a symbolic end. 

Scott Pegau, who manages research efforts of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute in Cordova, said boats there would historically be gearing up for herring season this time of year.

Because the herring population has yet to rebound to a fishable level, the town now primarily fishes salmon, which comes into season late in April. Otters, sea ducks and a killer whale pod are also still impacted by the spill, he said.

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the settlement had a huge impact on the community,” said Pegau, who was a student in Fairbanks in 1989. “I suspect (scrapping the ship) will help end the story for a lot of people. They’ll be able to say, ‘It’s finally gone, it doesn’t exist anymore.”’ 

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Norseman 03/25/12 - 12:28 pm
I am still amazed that

I am still amazed that Alaskans voted Sean Parnell in as Governor when he was one of Exxon's lawyers fighting the spill.
Now he is "arguing his case for big oil again" by wanting to give them billions of dollars in handouts.

Wake up and smell the coffee Alaskans!

spwright 03/26/12 - 02:25 pm
The Bridge of the Exxon Valdez

Heard rumours that the Bridge of the Exxon Valdez would become a attraction in the town of Cordova & the Residents could use that for Target Practice amoungst other un mentionables. Would probably be a good Stress Relief for those Residents.

& NO the People of Alaska have NOT Forgotten the Exxon Valdez.

SPW in Sloooooooowdotna

JOAT 03/26/12 - 08:20 pm

It's laughable how enviro-wackos and leftists play their anthropomorphism games with inanimate objects, such as a boat. The boat isn't evil, nor is it good. It's just a bunch of steel. Nothing more and nothing less. Soon, it will be the hemostats and other surgical instruments in use at your local hospital (as that's what the Indians do with their recycled steel... build scissors).

The real "people of Alaska" could care less about this boat. It's been banned from Alaskan waters since 1989 (another stupid human trick, as the spill had nothing to do with the boat). Since then, it has been happily shuttling cargo around the Mediterranean.

The truth that both of the Alaskans "who haven't forgotten" this stupid boat fail to realize is that there was no permanent or lasting environmental impact from the spill. Mother nature cleaned it up within a year, which is what she's always done with her environment. Secondly, it took that accident to get a wake up call to an oil shipping industry that was asleep at the wheel. The result of the spill was employment for tens of thousand of people, injection of billions of dollars into the economy, and a completley revamped safety and ship escort system that exists to this day, continuing to employ hundreds of people with a constant economic stream of millions per year into Alaska. It also created a program that employs every willing and able commercial fisherman in SouthCentral Alaska, giving them some extra income in the off season and ensuring that there is a well-trained and constantly ready to respond team just in case another spill occurs (which is technically impossible at this point outside of an intentional act of terrorism).

I hope the Indians make good use of all that steel. Recycle her well, boys!

Norseman 03/27/12 - 07:06 am
After reading your post,

After reading your post, perhaps we should have towed it to Valdez and made a monument out of it since it has done so much "good" for us.
We this kind of "spin", you could work for faux news.

kenai_kid 03/27/12 - 08:25 am

Have you been to PWS lately? Point Helen? Long Bay?

Jerry 03/27/12 - 09:28 am
The TRUTH about oil in the

The TRUTH about oil in the ocean is that God provided the micro organizms to clean up natural oil. All around the world is continually coming out into the ocean, all of which causes no problems what so ever.
The trouble with the oil is all the junk that mankind adds to it in make believe actions of trying to clean it up. It's manmade chemicals that cause all the problems, not the oil.
My question about these facts of Gods nature's ability to heal it's self can be seen & understood by someone with hardly any schooling, why can't your self presumed smart people that always have some answer also realize this??

Personally i could care less about what happens to this ship or any other one for that matter. I see this as a means by the media to sell papers, as well as provoke people to anger about the past abuse of Big Oil that could careless about anything other that the $$$.

OH! About the comment of someone working for a news agency, or governmental institution has also crossed my mind.
But! I wonder who it really might be, especially with the ideas spread that OUR Govt. is perfect & would never lie about anything or anyone?
OUR Govt. says & does what it wants and against whom it wants, all for the purpose of spreading it's desire to control & regulate every aspect of human life in America & even the entire world as well for it's end game of a OWO.

I see absolutely no differance between OUR Govt. & Big Oil. Make no mistake about my comments, i'm thankful for OUR freedoms, but it's not the govt. that allows those Freedoms, it's OUR Constitution which does this, a Constitution which i truly believe that God gave to OUR Founding Fathers.
It's We The People under God, not Them The Govt. outside of God that has kept us free this long.
All this is changing at a rapid pace & it's OUR Govt. now that has a desire to Change OUR Fundamentals, Rights, for a New Hope & Change to Believe in.
What a crock that is and it does not take a very smart person to understand those words & what change OUR fundamentals really means and it's not a good thing for anyone.

Please allow me to say this though about this time we now live in, a time where we see OUR Govt. removing all laws of God & OUR freedom under God at every turn. I believe that America has come to the End of the road according to Gods plans for us as a free nation and has in fact allowed this Chosen One to be elected for the completion of a OWO, a OWO which Gods word said was coming, and is almost here.

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