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SYNOPSIS

The purpose of this case study is to understand and discover what was really happening in on
March 24, 1989, where there was a tragedy involving largest oil spill into waters/oceans. This
study began in August 1989 and officially ended in 2013 which making it the longest running
study of a technological disaster in U.S. history. It was The Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS).
Exxon Valdez is a moto tankship American-registered which were departed in marine terminal in
Valdez, Alaska. The Exxon Valdez is a two-year-old tankship of single skin and high-strength
steel construction. It has 987 feet long, 166 feet wide, 88 feet deep and weighs 213,755
deadweight tons and has 11 cargo tanks [1].
The accident happened when the Exxon Valdez Oil Tanker was going across Bligh Reef and its
hull struck reef which ripped open the hull releasing the 11 million gallons of oil [1]. Based on
the investigation, it is determined that the probable causes of the grounding were [2]:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Third mate failed to operate the vessel properly due to fatigue and excessive workload.
Captain failed to provide proper navigation watch, he is under alcohol condition.
Radar reflector, Raytheon Collision Avoidance System (RAYCAS) malfunction.
Lack of crew onboard.

FINDINGS
Third mate failed to operate the vessel properly due to fatigue and excessive workload.
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At 11.53 pm, Third Mate Gregory Cousins had been on duty for six hours and was
scheduled to be relieved by Second Mate Lloyd LeCain. But Cousins, knowing LeCain
had worked long hours during loading operations during the day, had told the second
mate he could take his time in relieving him. Cousins did not call LeCain to awaken him
for the midnight-to-4-a.m. watch, instead remaining on duty himself. Cousins' duty hours
and rest periods became an issue in subsequent investigations [2].

Captain failed to provide proper navigation watch, he is under alcohol condition.


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A ship's agent who met with Hazelwood after he got back on the ship said it appeared the
captain may have been drinking because his eyes were watery, but she did not smell
alcohol on his breath. Ship's pilot Murphy, however, later indicated that he did detect the
odor of alcohol on Hazelwood's breath.

Radar reflector, Raytheon Collision Avoidance System (RAYCAS) malfunction.


-

Radar that have been used in this ship failed to properly maintain by the Exxon Shipping
Company. If it is functional, the radar could save the ship from the big collision with the
reef since the purpose of the radar to keep the ships on course [1].

Lack of crew onboard.


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In 1977, it is stated that the crew size was double the size of crew in 1989. The crew in
1989 need to worked 12 to 14 hour shifts plus the overtime.

DISCUSSION
As stated in the findings, we can summarize that the third mate failed to operate the vessel
properly due to fatigue and excessive workload, captain failed to provide proper navigation
watch due to under alcohol condition, radar reflector system malfunction, and lack of crew
onboard. As for me, steps need to be taken in order to overcome this problem is by selecting the
best workers and have proper work shift schedule. Based on findings, the third mate failed to
operate the vessel properly due to fatigue and excessive workload. Next, preparedness must be
strength. In this case, Exxon was not fully prepared for a spill in this magnitude. Not only that,
response capabilities must be enhanced in order to reduce environmental risk. We know that one
of the biggest tragedies which are difficult to clean up is oil spills. So, a lot of research needs to
be done in order to improve cleanup technology whether by chemical, mechanical and biological
methods. Next, due to lack of the crew onboard, captain is the one who should be responsible in
determining number of crew should be onboard.
There are various impacts due to oil Valdez spill which are environmental impact, economic
costs, and social disruption [3]. The effects of the oil spill on ecosystem need years to evaluate
since it involved big areas. Within a week after the oil spilled, Wildlife biologist estimated that
more than 15,000 seabirds had been exposed to oil. Meanwhile, of the dozens of otters that were
cleaned of oil, only a few survived [3]. Next, fishing is one of the major economic activity that
also been affected due to the oil spilled. The oil spilled occurred in herring season which cause a
loss to local fisherman about $12 million [4]. Oil Valdez spilled also brought social disruption
because it occurred in a region of sparse population. Assessment have been conducted between
two towns and most of them agree that, there are changes in the way family gets along together,
family member changed their future plans and changed them at work [4].
CONCLUSION
As a result, armies of clean-up crews spent over 2 billion dollars blasting beaches with steam
cleaners and scrubbing oil from rocks by hand all under extensive national media coverage. Ten
years later, Exxon, the corporation that owned the ship is trumpeting the success of clean up and
pointing to once oily beaches that now show no sign of oil. Cruise ship operators in the region
are very happy with the outcome of a spill.
REFERENCE
[1] Guterman, Lila, and Jacopo Pasotti, 2009. Exxon Valdez Turns Twenty. Science 323.5921
(2009): 1558-559. Science.
[2] Cleveland, Cutler J., 2010. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. The Encyclopedia of Earth. National
Ocean and Atmosphere Association,
[3] Gibson, T.December, 1989. Impacts of an Environmental Disaster on small Local
Government: The Valdez, Alaska, Oil spill. Public Management 71:18-19.
[4] Niering, Frank E. May, 1989. Implications of Alaskan Oil Spill. Petroleum Economist
56:149-151

APPENDICES