Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez

This movie is a scathing condemnation of the actions by Exxon before, during and after the grounding of the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Their sins were many:
  • The commitments when they lobbied for the building of the Trans Alaska Pipeline that 'not one drop' of oil would be spilled in Prince William Sound or along the coast were complete lies
  • The ship was sent out under the command of an alcoholic captain
  • The company was completely unprepared to do any sort of clean-up
  • The Exxon spokesperson in Alaska lied to the people that Exxon would 'make them whole'; the community was devastated financially and never compensatedfor their losses
  • The clean-up workers who were sent - basically to show that something was being done - were exposed to toxic materials in the clean-up and have suffered severe medical problems with no compensation
  • Prince William Sounds was environmentally ruined, the rocks are still polluted 20 years later and the herring fishery never recovered
  • Exxon dragged on litigation for many years with multiple appeals. After being judged liable for billions of dollars of damages in three lower courts, Exxon was finally fined a mere $508M dollars by the Supreme Court. This amounted to four days profit for the company, not exactly a deterrent for other companies.
The 'star' of the movie was the passionate, articulate, activist marine scientist and toxicologist, Riki Ott. She appeared for the Q&A session, and demonstrated that there is at least one woman in Alaska who is intelligent, knowledgeable, and able to put together several coherent sentences in a row. She is the author of Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

The other 'star' was the Prince William Sound itself, with much footage of the fantastically beautiful locale.

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