Exxon Valdez Oil Spill 20th Anniversary

Use your mouse to navigate through and select these historic images of Prince William Sound and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Images are from the NOAA Photo Library 'America's Coastlines' and 'Fisheries' collections.


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.

NOAA icon OR&R Incident News: incident reports and documents

NOAA icon U.S. Coast Guard: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill history, reports, testimony

NOAA icon Environmental Protection Agency: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill



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:

NOAA icon Oil Pollution Act of 1990

NOAA icon National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan

NOAA icon Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund

NOAA icon NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP)

NOAA icon U.S. Coast Guard National Pollution Funds Center

NOAA icon U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center

Learn More

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:

NOAA icon Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Anniversary interview (Making Waves, NOS audio podcast)

NOAA icon OR&R Emergency Response Division

NOAA icon NOAA's 200th Anniversary site: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

NOAA icon National Ocean Service Education Office: "Prince William's Oily Mess: A Tale of Recovery"

NOAA icon Office of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Damage Assessment and Restoration (NOAA Fisheries)

NOAA icon Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council

NOAA icon Environmental Protection Agency: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill