Response crews attempt to remove the remaining oil aboard the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez. (Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council)

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, rupturing its hull and spilling nearly 11 million gallons of Prudhoe Bay crude oil into a remote, scenic, and biologically productive body of water. Prior to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it was the largest single oil spill in U.S. coastal waters. In the weeks and months that followed, the oil spread over a wide area in Prince William Sound and beyond, resulting in a previously unprecedented response and cleanup. NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) was among the many local, state, federal, and private agencies and groups to provide immediate operational and scientific support during the assessment, response, and cleanup phases. In the role of science advisers to the Federal On-Scene Coordinator, OR&R provided spill trajectory, resources at risk, and early spill impact information during the initial stages of the spill. Once the focus shifted from response to cleanup, OR&R addressed issues related to the effectiveness and environmental effects of cleanup technologies. Learn more about OR&R's role in the emergency response, our work in Prince William Sound since the spill, and what lessons the Exxon Valdez spill offers for dealing with future oil spills.

Response to the Exxon Valdez Spill

Within hours after the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, a team of NOAA scientists arrived on-scene.

From Board Games to Cookbooks, How the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Infiltrated Pop Culture

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill left a number of legacies: Legislative, ecological, and even cultural—yes, that extends to pop culture too.

Take a look at five ways that this oil spill has shown up in places most oil spills just don't go.

25 Years Later: Timeline of Recovery from Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

The Exxon Valdez oil spill injured 28 types of animals, plants, and marine habitats in Alaska's Prince William Sound.

How long has it taken them to recover from this spill? Twenty-five years later, which ones have not yet recovered?

Check out this infographic showing the timeline of recovery for marine life and habitats following the spill.

Report: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Revisited 25 Years Later

A new report, Twenty-Five Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, synthesizes NOAA's scientific support, monitoring, and research in the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

NOAA's Long-Term Monitoring Program in Prince William Sound, Alaska

From 1990 through 2000, OR&R biologists conducted a long-term ecological study to monitor the intertidal shorelines of Prince William Sound, Alaska, affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

10 Photos That Tell the Story of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and its Impacts

Few oil spills have made such a large or lasting impression as the Exxon Valdez spill on March 24, 1989. Here we've gathered 10 photos that help tell the story of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and its impacts, not only on the environment but also on science, policy, spill response, school kids, and even board games.

The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

While the Exxon Valdez spill was an unfortunate incident, it provided a necessary impetus to reexamine the state of oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup.

It Took More Than the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill to Pass the Historic Oil Pollution Act of 1990

If you believe oil shouldn't just be spilled without consequence into the ocean, then you should be grateful for a very important U.S. law known as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

It was passed 25 years ago, the summer after the Exxon Valdez oil spill rocked the nation, but a rash of other events would help emphasize just how much the United States needed this law.

Detecting Changes in a Changing World: 25 Years After the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

NOAA scientists have been studying the environment affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill for 25 years.

During that time, they have found what a changing environment Alaskan shores naturally can be.

This fact, along with bigger changes at work in the world, has proven just how tough it can be to determine where the impacts from an oil spill begin and end.

The Never-ending History of Life on a Rock

What can a rock tell us about ecosystem recovery after the Exxon Valdez oil spill?

Check out what a NOAA scientist learned after visiting the same rock for more than 20 years and the unexpected legacy for citizen science in Alaska.

Lessons Learned From the Exxon Valdez Spill

OR&R's goal is to use science to better understand physical and biological recovery after an oil spill like the Exxon Valdez, and then apply the lessons in future spill responses.

Mearns Rock: A Long-Term Study of Ecological Recovery

In 1990, NOAA scientists began a long-term study of "Mearns Rock," a large boulder that was oiled but not cleaned during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, to examine how marine life recovers from oil spills. They have been photographing the boulder each year since.

More Than Two Decades Later, Have Killer Whales Recovered from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?

Twenty-three years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, we take a look at the possible effects the oil has had on the killer whales of Prince William Sound, Alaska.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, we are taking the lessons we learned from killer whales down to the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

How Toxic Is Oil?

There are many kinds of oil, and each is a complex mixture of chemicals. What are some ways oil can cause harm to living organisms?

Remembering the Exxon Valdez: Collecting 25 Years of Memories and Memorabilia

Two months after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka would board the damaged tanker and leave with a piece of history that would inspire his 25-year-long collection of curiosities related to the ship.

Take a peek at what he's been collecting for the past 25 years since the spill.

Tweetchat: 25 Years Since Exxon Valdez

On March 24, 2014, we hosted a Twitter Q&A with NOAA marine biologist Gary Shigenaka on the environmental impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which happened 25 years earlier in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Looking Back: What Led up to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred on March 24, 1989.

Now, 25 years later, join us for a historical look at the series of events which set the stage for this monumental oil spill.

After the Big Spill, What Happened to the Ship Exxon Valdez?

We know the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989.

But after this brush with infamy, what happened to this ship?

Follow its story—and many name changes—from its birth in a San Diego shipyard to its end on a beach in India.