The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: 25 Years Ago Today

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez had just entered Alaska's Prince William Sound, after departing the Valdez Marine Terminal full of crude oil. At 12:04 am, the ship struck a reef, tearing open the hull and releasing 11 million gallons of oil into the environment. Initial responses by Exxon and the Alyeska Pipeline Company were insufficient to contain much of the spill, and a storm blew in soon after, spreading the oil widely. Eventually, more than 1,000 miles of coastline were fouled, and hundreds of thousands of animals perished. Exxon ended up paying billions in cleanup costs and fines, and remains tied up in court cases to this day. The captain, Joseph Hazelwood, was acquitted of being intoxicated while at the helm, but convicted on a misdemeanor charge of negligent discharge of oil, fined $50,000, and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service. Though the oil has mostly disappeared from view, many Alaskan beaches remain polluted to this day, crude oil buried just inches below the surface.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Carl Court / Getty

    Photos: Mourning in New Zealand

    Images from the past few days in Christchurch, where residents continue to gather at makeshift memorials across the city

  • Nati Harnik / AP

    In Photos: Deadly Floods Sweep the Midwest

    Snowmelt and last week’s “bomb cyclone” have overwhelmed rivers in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and neighboring states, causing widespread flooding that has broken dozens of records and cost at least three lives.

  • Leah Millis / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Hudson Yards, Birdman Rally, Cat Yoga

    A rabbit in war-torn Syria, water shortages in Venezuela, cherry blossoms in China, terror in New Zealand, voting in North Korea, a global youth protest against climate-change inaction, and much more

  • Andrew Burton / Getty

    Sound Bites: Dogs on the Microphone

    A collection of news photos of pups being interviewed