WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite significant improvements in the prevention and management of oil spills, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today warned against becoming complacent with the progress made since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.
“While we have made significant progress in spill prevention and response, increased our scientific knowledge of oil spills, clean up and environmental monitoring, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent again” Murkowski said. She issued her warning at a Capitol Hill event, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), commemorating the upcoming March 24, 1989, anniversary of the spill.
Murkowski explained that advances have been made in the areas of monitoring and disaster preparedness since 1989 to prevent spills from occurring again. Since the Valdez disaster, the U.S. Coast Guard now monitors tankers during their entire journey through Prince William Sound with trained marine pilots on each ship for 25 miles of the 70 mile journey.
New requirements also set specific weather criteria for safe navigation along with contingency plans, oil barges and containment booms are now all readily available should a spill occur. Most notably, Murkowski highlighted the requirement that by 2015, all tankers entering Prince William Sound be double-hulled.
“Had the Exxon Valdez been double hulled, the amount of the spill would have been reduced by more than half” Murkowski said.
While these new safety advances have resulted in the recent escort of the 11,000th fully loaded tanker safely through the Sound, Murkowski urged continued vigilance.
“It is unfortunate that it takes an environmental disaster of this magnitude to enact the kind of preventative measures and responses necessary to keep it from happening again” Murkowski said. “We must remain ever vigilant to insure that we are doing everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Senator Murkowski’s entire speech, as prepared for delivery, is attached.