Close up of the oil still present 15 years after the original spill.
In 1991 ExxonMobil pleaded guilty to breaking several
environmental laws and settled criminal and civil lawsuits of over
US$1 billion. This was the most extensive attempt in human history
to mitigate the environmental damage caused by an industrial
Since then ExxonMobil/Esso, the world's leading oil company, has
used its vast financial power and influence to avoid taking
responsibility. The company has dragged out the battle over the
additional US$5 billion punitive damages awarded against it and has
stated that it intends to see the decision "overturned." Yet at the
same time, the oil giant
is suing Greenpeace and 36 individuals who peacefully entered
ExxonMobil's headquarter in Texas to protest against the company's
position on climate change.
In the early 1990s, ExxonMobil funded research that claimed the
Sound was well on its way to recovery. But new scientific research,
conducted over the last 14 years, states the opposite. The latest
study, published in Science magazine, concluded that far from
having recovered the Sound area continues to experience problems as
a result of oil remaining from the spill.
500 miles of the coastline covered in oil just within the Sound
area, mortality in the aftermath of the spill was particularly
high, with sea otter, sea bird and harbour seal populations hit
hard. Contrary to ExxonMobil's research, oil is still present in
the Sound and has remained 'persistently toxic', resulting in
long-term impacts on fish, sea otters and sea ducks.
Deliberate misinformation campaign
Dennis Kelso, Commissioner of Alaska's Department of
Environmental Conservation argues that ExxonMobil's statements
following the spill were "part of a deliberate misinformation
campaign," a position supported by marine scientist Professor Rick
Steiner, who believes that ExxonMobil "has constructed its own
'reality' of the spill - minimal impacts and rapid recovery."
"ExxonMobil's tactics are well-known, and this is a classic case
of deny, dupe and delay," said Greenpeace Campaigner Anita
Goldsmith. "Just as it denies the science on climate change, it
denies that oil from the spill is causing damage in the Sound. And
on both issues it is running a campaign to dupe the public into
thinking it's an environmentally and socially responsible
corporation. As long as ExxonMobil continues this way, Greenpeace
will continue to campaign around the world to expose it."
Paying for research to support its argument and to misinform the
public is nothing new to ExxonMobil. It has funded research in
legal and academic journals that supports the company argument that
juries are not competent to rule in punitive damage cases like the
Exxon Valdez. This research is an attempt to effect a change in
legislation that would enable ExxonMobil to succeed in its attempts
to 'overturn' the punitive damages award. The company also runs an
organised campaign to demolish accepted science on climate change.
At a time when the world is suffering the consequences of changing
weather, droughts, floods etc ExxonMobil argues that more research
is needed before taking action.
ExxonMobil's version of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is a history
of lies, a legacy that the company pursues in its activities
Tell Exxon to drop its suit against Greenpeace, and pick up its own
Don't buy Esso.
Spank Exxon/Mobil! game.
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