Workers begin attempts at cleaning the oiled shorelines after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Photo courtesy CHS collection/Cathy Sherman

By Holly West 

Dear Editor, 

I’m writing in regards to the legacy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. A  significant amount of the younger generations don’t know the full story of this critical event. Like many people my age (17), I never had an interest in this topic until it was brought to my attention that an abundance of environmental and town repercussions occurred.    

March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground at Bligh Reef, spilling 11 million gallons of oil covering over 1,300 miles across Alaskas coast. When the spill first happened there was absence of the SERVS program. Without management of the oil drifting off further down the coast and out to the Gulf of Alaska, fishermen from the area headed out to use corklines as a blockade of movement.  

“Everyone left and none of us kids knew what was happening, it was a very lonely time,” said a local Cordovan man.  

“Although this event was unexpected it was also preventable, the negligence and disregard to the safety of the town and environment was unbelievable,” he stated.  


Throughout the course of four years over 254,000 land and ocean animals were killed. The ingestion of oil and oil vapors are harmful to all species. Oil coats the fur and feather of animals taking away the ability to be buoyant, leading them into a state of hypothermia. Fish, the most important to our town, grow to have deformities along with hydrocarbon contaminated flesh.  

Even after 35 years the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill has and always will affect our ecosystems and economy.   


Holly West 
Cordova Jr./Sr. High School Student 

This story originally ran in the March 29 issue of The Cordova Times.