Sunday, December 24, 2006

Exxon Valdez Damages Reduced

Seventeen years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Mobil still has not paid damages from a 1994 jury award. On Friday, a federal appeals court reduced the damages from $5 billion to $2.5 billion.

The disaster was caused when a tanker ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The spill caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds and other marine animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recorded long-term effects (pdf) in the following species.

Biological resources were considered injured by the Exxon Valdez oil spill only if scientific research demonstrated a population-level injury or continuing chronic effects. Such injured biological resources included bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), common loons (Gavia immer), clams, common murres (Uria aalge), cormorants (Phalacrocorax, three species), cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii), Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma), harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), Kittlitz’s murrelets (Brachyramphus brevirostris), marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus marmoratus), killer whales (Orcinus orca), mussels (Mytilus edulis), Pacific herring (Clupea harengus), river otters (Lutra canadensis), pigeon guillemots (Cepphus columba), pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), rockfish (Sebastes sp.), sea otters (Enhydra lutris), and sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka).