Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, spilling 11.2 million U.S. gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. This event naturally holds historic significance for Valdez, as the terminus for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and as a center for oil spill cleanup activity in the aftermath of the spill. The long-term effects of the oil spill are still being felt today in terms of environmental impact and negative economic effects on industries such as fishing and tourism. The twenty-plus years since the oil spill have been marked by heated litigation and legislation, and close scrutiny of the oil industry by environmental groups. The same time span has also seen many changes and improvements to the technology and procedures surrounding oil spill prevention and response, resulting in an unprecedented level of service towards protecting the environment of Prince William Sound.
In 2010, the Valdez Museum completed the first of many large-scale exhibit upgrades. Utilizing rarely-seen artifacts, modern methods of graphics production and presentation, and updated content, museum staff worked with exhibit developers and stakeholders of diverse viewpoints and backgrounds to explore the Valdez’s unique role in this environmental tragedy. Visit the Valdez Museum to learn more about the little-known facts of this complex and moving story.