The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred as a result of the grounding of the Exxon Valdez on Bligh Reef, Alaska on March 24, 1989. Approximately 11 million gallons of the tanker’s cargo of Alaskan North Slope crude oil was spilled into the open water of Prince William Sound. Many of the resources and services injured by the spill were still classified as injured in 2002, 13 years after the spill.
To support this independent evaluation effort, we conducted a large number of interviews, technical meetings, and public meetings that involved a diverse range of stakeholders. We interviewed and met with scientists working for Exxon and for Trustee agencies; we communicated and coordinated with scientists representing NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, USGS, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, universities, and consulting companies.
We successfully met the challenges associated with this project, including the efficient review and prioritization of a very large body of research and maintaining an independent scientific perspective, while facilitating open technical communication on potentially divisive technical topics, adapting methods for communicating technical information to diverse audiences, and producing a sound and technically defensible report on complex and, in some cases, controversial technical topics.