How Much Oil Really Spilled From the Exxon Valdez?

Friday, June 18, 2010


As politicians and journalists try to make sense of the BP oil disaster, they frequently refer to the 11 million gallons spilled from the Exxon Valdez. Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist and author, explains that it's in fact a disputed figure the media have incorrectly adopted.

    Music Playlist
  • Away Frm U
    Artist: by Oberhofer

Comments [6]

Benjamin from With listening distance of shoddy journalism

And the lazy journalism continues. Now 25 years later both NPR's own news program and the associated Here and Now both reported that 11 million gallons spilled. How can we get NPR reporters and editors to correct misleading information if they don't even know what other NPR supported programs debunked long ago?

Mar. 24 2014 02:22 PM
Jeremy Zilar from New York, NY

Today I asked the @BP_America Twitter account,

"@BP_America what % of 435,600 barrels is water? #oilspill"

They responded back with,

"The number reflects oil only."

Jun. 27 2010 05:37 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Add, "After..." before "Ms. Ott's".

Jun. 22 2010 06:39 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Ms. Ott's comment about the existence of a second, and high density, camera covering the pipe head, I ran over a couple of well-thought comments by other Washington Journal (C-SPAN's daily call-in show, something worth covering) viewers, from Friday. One pointed out that, from his experience in the field, the amount of oil in the Gulf seemed to exceed what a pipe of this diameter could expel in the time passed (he may be forgetting all the dispersant added at the well head). The other that an explosion at the site (especially a nuclear one, as had just been suggested) could rupture the ceiling of whatever natural vessel contained the oil and spew it from the ocean floor.

Until Bob Ballard shows up with his roving camera (and why wasn't he given the task of sealing the, pipe, since Admiral Allen had already arguably once failed in recovering the Gulf), I am afraid I think the stationary camera is a really distraction from a problem that may last the rest of our lives.

Jun. 22 2010 06:36 AM
Andrew Tucci

I noted with concern one of the story's conclusions that the post EXXON VALDEZ regulatory system was based on an inacurate volume of oil spilled from that vessel. In fact, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the subsequent Coast Guard regulations (33 CFR 155.1020) clearly define worst case oil spill planning standards as "a discharge in adverse weather conditions of a vessel's entire oil cargo". These regulations apply to individual tank vessels, so that every oil tanker that operates in U.S. waters have to have available a combination of recovery devices, such as skimmers and other response resources needed to address a spill of that magnitude within specific time periods. These regulations have enabled effective cleanup of many significant spills since their passage, and they are in no way related to the volume of oil from the EXXON VALDEZ.

Jun. 21 2010 03:48 PM
Micah from NYC

Great Segment! Very interesting how the oil industry easily uses sleight of hand against a incompetent media.

Jun. 19 2010 07:19 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.