IN THE WAKE OF THE EXXON VALDEZ: The Devastating Impact of Alaska's Oil Spill by Art Davidson

IN THE WAKE OF THE EXXON VALDEZ: The Devastating Impact of Alaska's Oil Spill

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Who was responsible for the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster: the captain, the Coast Guard radar watchers, the Exxon Company, the oil consortium Alyeska that had filed a near-fictitious emergency plan, the Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation that okayed the plan, the US Department of the Interior that refused to get involved, the people of Valdez and all Alaska who had become dependent on oil money, or the lower-48 suburbanites with their family fleets of oil-guzzling cars? Alaska resident Davidson (Minus 148: The Winter Ascent of Mt. McKinley, 1969) examines the role and/or responsibility of all these players in a lively, skillfully structured narrative. His reporting of the incident and its aftermath points up the official complacency, deception, cost-cutting, and unpreparedness that contributed to the disaster; the bumbling, inertia, and confusion of authority of the ""experts'"" initial response; and the institutional jockeying and what one local described as ""cover-your-ass maneuvering"" that took over when the lawyers and PR men came in. The story has its heroes--among them the local fisherman whose mosquito-fleet bucket brigade outperformed the oil industry's best skimmer; the local longhaired bookseller who organized the bird and other rescue operations; and the volunteers from everywhere who cleaned beaches with hands, brushes, and improvised vacuums. Mostly, though, it's a sad story--not only for the workers, native villagers, wildlife, and entire ecosystem victimized by the spill, but also for a society paralyzed by such coalitions of bottom-line business interests and self-protective bureaucracy.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1990
Publisher: Sierra Club