The Exxon Valdez ran aground on Friday March 24 at around midnight, this is when what everyone thought was going to be the worst of it happened. But on Sunday March 26 it became very clear that is was not going to be the only horrible thing to happen in regards to this oil spill.
By this time the oil slick had now grown to be over 100 square miles. The oil was still in the water and the governor of Alaska declared it a state of emergency. At this point it was becoming very glaringly clear that Alyseka had broken all of its promises about cleaning up a spill. By their promises 100,000 barrels of oil should have been cleaned up by this point; but the real numbers was very far from it. They had only cleaned up 3,000 barrel on the high end, many suspects it was even less than this. At this point all the oil that was in the water was on the surface, which made it harmful but easy to clean up.
But then everything fell apart and got so much worse. Alaska does get a lot of spring storms and just because there was oil in the sound the storms were not going to stop. This spring storm brought high winds with it that turned up the water. Which is not good when there is oil in the water. The winds were around 73 miles an hour and they pushed the oil onto the shoreline about 12 meters (40 feet) covering anything and everything that was there. The winds a lot mixed the oil with the water, which made it less toxic but much harder to clean up.
At this point any plan that had been made to clean up the oil had to be cancelled and thrown away because it would no longer work. The dispersants that they had been using would no longer work and the lighting it on fire would not work anymore. Due to the oil being so spread out and the oil being washed so high up onto the shorelines that it now needed to be cleaned from the beaches.
The only thought that is reoccurring within my mind about this part of the disaster is failure. The failure of one group that was intrusted to clean up the oil, if it did ever spill, had failed on a huge scale. With this it also makes me think about the trust that was placed and if it was too much. Everyone in this situation trusted that Alyeska would be able to execute the plan that they had made, and did not make plans for themselves.
Was the disaster at this point uncontrollable and could be cleaned up? This question is one that is very hard to answer because we cannot predict if all the oil would have been able to be cleaned if the storm had not have hit. By the end of Sunday the oil slick had grown to be 500 Square miles, which was absolutely massive.
Leacock, Elipheth. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Facts on File Inc., 2005.
Hernan, Robert Emmet., Bill McKibben. This borrowed Earth: Lessons form the 15 Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World. St. Martin’s Press, 2010.