On March 24, 1989, the super tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into a remote, scenic, biologically diverse, and productive area.
It remains the largest oil spill to ever occur in U.S. waters. The oil spread over a wide area, ultimately affecting over 1,100 miles of Alaskan coastline.
NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) was among the many local, state, federal, and private agencies and groups to provide immediate operational and scientific support during the assessment, response, and cleanup phases.
The Exxon Valdez spill led to a reexamination of the state of oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup. One result was the passage of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 by the U.S. Congress.
Many states responded in similar fashion by tightening or completely restructuring oversight of oil production and transportation. Here are a few programs with roots tracing back to the historic spill:
There are many excellent online resources to learn more about the Exxon Valdez spill. The following is a collection of federal government sites with extensive information about the spill: